Meet the Local Skills Improvement Plan Team: Hannah Ponsford

Aneta Mikesova
Marketing Executive
14th March 2024

As part of our 'Meet the team' series, we have been talking to members of our Local Skills Improvement Plan Team.

This time we chatted to Hannah, Research Manager, about her role, what a typical week looks like for her and her idea of a perfect Sunday. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career background?

I studied Journalism and Film Studies at UWE and then took a gap year travelling across North America and Canada. When I got back to Bristol, I started my career in the NHS as an administrator in hospitals and domiciliary care before moving into education - working in the Apprenticeships Team at Weston College for nearly five years. I joined Business West in June 2021 as a Project Coordinator, and then Project Manager, for programmes providing skills support and workforce development planning for businesses in the region.

What is your current role at Business West?

I am the Research Manager for the LSIP team at Business West. My role is to work with the team internally, as well as external stakeholders, to produce updates, reports and roadmaps reflecting the research carried out through the LSIP process so far. This includes outlining the key priorities for all regions under the LSIP and looking towards shaping the post-16 technical education landscape, support and initiatives to help employers in the West of England, Gloucestershire and Swindon and Wiltshire.

What is the most interesting part of your job as Research Manager for LSIP team?

The most interesting part of my role is meeting with employers from a wide range of sectors across the three regions - I’ve learnt so much about industries I knew very little about! It’s also interesting hearing about the successes and challenges of these businesses. We speak to such a variety of employers, but they are often facing similar obstacles within their organisations.

What does a typical week look like for you?

Lots of meetings and lots of reading! We hold focus groups with employers and external stakeholders so I will usually attend at least one of these a week to collect data, identifying any trends and common themes that will form the basis of our reports. I also review the data from the interviews our Business Engagement Executives hold with employers, again looking for the key priorities of businesses in the region. Finally, I catch up on any newly published reports or articles that might provide more information around these areas and check in with the other members of the Research Team who are also working on compiling data for our reports and other projects around the key priorities raised by employers we speak to.

What would you be doing if you weren’t working for the LSIP team?

I’m not sure! The similarity between working in the NHS, education and skills is helping people, whether that be patients, learners or businesses so I’d like to think I would still be doing something along those lines. But if I won the lottery, I think I would have to live out my ‘Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail’ dream of owning an independent book shop! 

How can businesses get involved with the LSIPs?

There are lots of ways you can get involved! You can attend one of our focus groups to join in a larger discussion - this is also a great way of connecting with businesses who also work in your sector. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to speak to one of our team one to one, you can book in for an interview with one of our Business Engagement Executives. They also offer a bespoke signposting service to point you in the direction of training and support available for your business based around the priorities you discuss. We also have our LSIP Skills Advisor who can work with you one to one, looking at skills and workforce development planning and helping you navigate the sometimes-complicated skills landscape. 

If you want to get involved but are unsure which is the best option for you, get in touch!

Tell us about your perfect Sunday – what would it involve?

As theatres tend to be closed on Sundays, my day usually starts with a lie in, a book and a cup of tea. I would’ve probably dropped hints with my parents all week about an invitation for one of Mum’s legendary roast dinners and then, if the weather is nice, we might be able to drag my (very reluctant) dog out for a walk – preferably on the beach. The day would not be complete without a late afternoon film, and then finish the day with a few more chapters before an early night, ready for the week ahead! Basically, bed, books and Border Terriers!

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