Meet the Skills Team: Barry Tugwood

Zoe Bagnall
Content and PR Executive | Business West
12th July 2021

Barry Tugwood is a Business Skills Advisor working on the Workforce for the Future and Kickstart projects. He works with businesses and training providers across the South West to help businesses upskill their teams while providing opportunities for young people. We caught up with Barry to find out more about his day job and how he supports both companies and young people to succeed.

Tell us a bit about yourself; your role as a Skills Business Adviser and your career background? 

I’m Barry and have worked in the Skills Team at Business West for five years as a Business Skills Advisor, currently working on the Workforce for the Future Programme. This has followed on from another significant programme called Skills West where I led on Health & Life Sciences and distribution as sector enagement. My background and career have been very much rooted in sport and active leisure. I worked as a Tennis Coach for 12 years and was employed as a Lawn Tennis Association Development Manager in Avon & Gloucestershire. This is where I began my interest in vocational skills and training having developed in house apprenticeship schemes for coaches and support roles. 

From here, I moved to a role at Skills Active, the Sector Skills Council and National Skills Academy  (NSA) for sport and active leisure, as  South West Regional Manager developing workforces within that wide sector. Spells with  apprenticeship agencies, consultant services followed and a year with a homeless charity sourcing skills, training, and job opportunities with employers for care leavers.

I live with my family in Chipping Sodbury, South Gloucestershire enjoying the outdoors as much as possible.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It’s people always that gives me the most enjoyment, their stories, their ambitions, their uniqueness. Having a role that aims to understand their business, its goals and needs for developing people is always fresh and exciting. If I can provide some solutions, develop someone, help drive the business forward then it’s very rewarding.

Working with young people has a significant buzz. If you can start working with them from a young age where you bring employers into schools to motivate them into careers for example then that’s extremely valuable. Apprenticeships are now much more expansive and supportive and it’s rewarding to be able to motivate young people to perhaps go on an apprenticeship  helping them understand that university might not necessarily be right for them as an individual. 

You can start training at any age but it’s key for the future that we support young people now and fill sector skills gaps.

And what are the most challenging aspects of your job?

There are many challenging obstacles in this role, and you must be very aware that one size does not fit all. Different sectors and organisations experience many differing challenges in terms of market forces or types of work having an impact on wellbeing.  Brexit and COVID have and will continue to have a had huge impact and it’s my job to ensure the support  is realistic and motivating. As an adviser you need to understand the issues in detail, and it can be challenging when you are working with such a range of clients with differing needs. But that is also what keeps the role exciting and Business West do a great job of ensuring there is enough resource for the companies. We also share our skills and knowledge across the team and help each other out. 

What help and skills support are your team able to offer businesses as part of your role?

Within the skills and training landscape it can be quite confusing for businesses who might not realise what opportunities are out there. We give advice on HR elements, such as what policies need to be in place for their business, we can look at recruitment, sustainability plans, and workforce development plans. We can really be that glue in terms of moving the business forward through work force development and future proofing strategies. As long as we understand where their business is and where they want to get to, rather than throwing out business-related jargon. If we don’t know how to implement change, we will probably know someone who does. 

Why should employers be interested in workforce development planning?

A lot of business owners struggle because they like the idea and would love to have a  long trerm workforce development plan, but they don’t have the time to put into it’s formation. Having us working with them on that journey and creating a live-in document which is moulded around their employees needs, makes sure that they’re given the tools to support their employees. At the same time, it future proofs their business and motivates their staff to want to work for that employer. Staff feel nurtured, cared for, and then as a result put more into that business.

Once employers are involved in the programme, all the issues they’ve been thinking about for many years comes out and we help them work through these productively. It’s often something that they haven’t had the conduit to start. We’re getting excellent testimonials that this is really giving staff an opportunity to develop.

Having an outside agency working with the company also helps the owners and directors as staff realise that they are taking their development seriously.  

Tell us about the most interesting business you have worked with?

It’s difficult as there has been so many great companies who all have all different profiles. Picking a recent one which does spring to mind is a company in Bristol called Revive Innovations. They collect old CDs which take millions of years in landfill to disappear. The owner, Kieron takes the CDs and repurposes them into bar stools and furniture. He has a fantastic business model and he’s just starting to get great orders. For example, a bar in London is using his products to furnish their proposed venue. When you see a young entrepreneur hit on an idea that’s both environmentally friendly and is potentially very prosperous, it’s so interesting and rewarding be involved with. We’re now supporting him to develop his staff through the Kickstart programme with the potential to move them on to an apprenticeship or their Continuing Professional Development CPD. 

Want to book an appointment with Barry? You can email him or call 01275 373373.

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