Meet the Skills Team: Claire Bedding

Zoe Bagnall
Content and PR Executive | Business West
21st May 2021

Claire Bedding is a Business Skills Advisor working on the Workforce for the Future and Kickstart projects. She 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 Claire to find out more about her day job and how she supports both companies and young people to succeed.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your role as a Skills Business Advisor and your career background?

My role as a skills advisor primarily involves working in the Workforce for the Future programme which is essentially designed to hook up businesses to all areas of the skills and training provision landscape, supporting employers to feel confident in identifying and actioning their skills requirements. We provide up to 30 hours of support and tailor that to the individual businesses priorities to ensure it is timely and effective. 

With detailed diagnostic consultations I help ensure that what employers need dovetails into the skills support available in the region. It’s about joining the dots together with the aim of creating a frictionless journey so businesses can get access to those new skills they need for their businesses to thrive whilst introducing them to future talent pipeline solutions.

I came to Business West from UCAS as Apprenticeships Lead and was previously Apprenticeship’s manager for Screwfix Ltd so my understanding of education strategy and the benefits of learning in the workplace alongside the commercial priorities of businesses can really help SME’s. I like shortcuts! 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy the commercial environment and understand how critically important it is to support businesses to grow and excel through their people. The job is endlessly fascinating because people’s stories and journeys are.

I am passionate about supporting young people and accelerating them towards opportunities. The energy and talent that’s out there can really give a business the edge, particularly in the digital sphere. It’s so rewarding to direct businesses towards the initiatives available to supercharge their businesses. 

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

It’s both a challenge and reward to work across so many sectors from hospitality, to tech, to engineering. I enjoy learning about businesses and gaining a holistic overview. Sometimes we get to solutions very quickly and sometimes it takes a little longer to tease out what is required due to conflicting priorities. I help clear the path and open doors until we reach a solution.

Speed of change can be a challenge, some businesses I work with are owner/entrepreneur led and are able to see the big picture and implement decisions quickly. In larger organisations buy in is required at various levels which is necessary but can slow things down.

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

Through the Workforce for the Future Programme, we have detailed conversations with businesses that lead to a range of outcomes including workforce development planning, learning and development support, access to skills provision, talent pipeline planning, succession planning, tailored advice and signposting to other specialists that can help with apprenticeships, internships and short intervention training. 

Why should employers be interested in workforce development planning?

People are the power of the organisation. If you don’t invest in people’s skills, then they can’t power the organisation forward or fulfil your organisational ambitions. We know that skills gaps are widening, we want young people to come into businesses bringing their energy and drive but it’s also crucial companies give existing employees the opportunity to develop skills. Given the opportunity to develop, existing employees can gain more confidence and are more willing to try things outside their normal comfort zone, but it starts with introducing a culture of learning and acceptance so that people feel comfortable to share that they need additional training or support. We all want to finish our days with a sense of accomplishment. 

With a 24% gap in profit margins between companies that invest in their workforce and those who don’t, it also comes down to a need to have, not just a nice to have.  

What would be your top tip to anyone wanting to take on an apprentice?

Preparation is very important and getting expert advice in advance.  You need to set yourself up for success. Apprenticeships can be transformational for both employer and apprentice, but preparation is key, as with so many things in life. We wouldn’t think of setting off on a long car journey without the aid of satnav, checking tyres, screen wash levels, filling up with fuel, planning nice spots for lunch. Essentially, I help people enjoy the journey by showing them how to plan the route.

Want to book an appointment with Claire? You can email her or call 01275 373373.

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