5 steps to ensure your business has the skills it needs now and in the future

Adam Powell
Director of Skills | West of England Local Enterprise Partnership
13th February 2015

Businesses in our region continue to face the challenge of a skills gap, impacting on growth and stifling productivity and future innovation. However, how can we ensure that the skill demands of the business community can be met now and in the future?

To demonstrate this, Engineering and High-Tech is the fourth largest employment sector in the West of England, employing around 44,400 individuals: 8 per cent of our workforce. In 2014, around 1,000 engineering jobs were advertised across the region - that's nearly three jobs every day!

This number will rise, with approximately 87,000 people per year needed over the next ten years to meet national demand.

Don’t get left behind. These 5 steps will ensure that your business has the skills it needs to keep up with demand:

1. Up skill your current staff

  • To meet the future skills needs of your business and improve the skills of your workforce, you don’t have to hire new talent. By analysing your current staff skill set you may discover that you have all the knowledge and expertise that you need, it just wasn’t being utilised.
  • Another option is to up skill your staff. The engineering industry changes quickly and regularly, and the skills of your workforce may now be out of date. 
  • To search for courses, education and training providers in the West of England, use Skills Junction.

2. Include apprenticeships and traineeships in your recruitment strategy

 Apprentices can reduce training and recruitment costs, increase productivity and enable you to develop and create a workforce with skills and knowledge specific to your business. There is a wealth of funding and support available to assist you with taking on an apprentice.

3. Develop partnerships with education

By developing partnerships with local education providers and facilitators such as the West of England LEP Business in Schools Network you can shape and influence your future workforce starting right at the school level. There is a plethora of ways to engage with education, including mentoring programmes, careers events and student challenges

4. Broaden your skills selection, don’t just hire graduates

By only hiring graduates or recruiting from within, you significantly limit the skills available to your business. There are people in the local community with relevant, transferrable skills that you may have overlooked in the past. With a little training these people can bring a new perspective and a breadth of experience to your business.

5. Keep your future workforce informed and inspired

If your future workforce doesn’t know about your industry, they won’t want to work for you. It is crucial that young people, parents and education are aware of the opportunities available and campaigns like the Rise of the Engineer is a successful example of this.

Based around a series of six fact sheets, each focusing on a different engineering sub-sector, the Rise of the Engineer provides current industry statistics, information and case studies from the West of England.

These 5 steps aren’t just limited to the engineering sector – they can be adapted for any business. It is crucial that you identify the future skills gaps for your business and work proactively to ensure that your business is skilled, motivated and prepared for growth.

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