Peter Doyle is a Business Skills Adviser working on the Skills West project. He helps West of England businesses in the advanced engineering and aerospace sector tackle skills gaps and offers advice on a range of skills related matters. We caught up with Peter to find out more about his day job, how he can help companies and what he likes to get up to outside of the office.
Tell us a bit about yourself; your role as a Business Skills Adviser for Skills West and your career background?
I have just joined the Skills Team as a Business Skills Advisor for the Advanced Engineering and Aerospace sector, which is an exciting opportunity. I have spent the last 8 years as a Lecturer/ Coach in a Further Education (FE) College teaching Business Studies, having worked in the commercial world prior to that in a number of senior marketing roles with technology firms such as Apple and Intel.
What is a typical day and / or week for you?
On Mondays, I tend to be in the office, for team meetings, catching-up on administration and booking client appointments for the rest of the week. From Tuesday through to Friday, I can be either having those 121 meetings with selected firms, to better understand their business skills needs, or attending local business expo events/college skills events, where I can engage with a broader reach of engineering and aerospace firms to better understand their challenges and opportunities.
What type of businesses do you work with?
Advanced engineering and aerospace firms within the West of England area. This sector is the largest cluster in Europe, and second only world-wide, to the North American Aerospace sector.
What sort of advice are you able to give to businesses in the West of England?
When engaging with mainly engineering SME’s (small, medium sized enterprises), I can advise them about the routes around the Apprenticeship Levy, which is a super programme to identify and recruit new talent for an firm, while also retaining and developing their existing staff, through upskilling. I also “broker” opportunities between these SMEs and regional training providers, to support their businesses, and to generate valuable sector skills intelligence to share within the industry.
What are the main challenges in your sector?
The current perception amongst parents, primary and secondary school teachers and career advisors is that they still think of traditional engineers as the “hard hats and hi-vis yellow jackets”, and these images tend to be mainly male, middle-class and white.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), is the fourth major industrial era since the initial Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. So, this sector is going through transformational change from what I term - “analogue” to “digitally-connected” Engineering.
Technology is merging with Engineering – with disruptive and transformational technologies such as: 3D-Printing, Additive Manufacturing, Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR), Robotics, Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), the “Connected” IoT’s environment, Drones & Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s); and the rapid migration from “metals” to “plastics”.
What would be your top tip to any businesses struggling with skills shortages?
Keep on open mind on the routes through which potential (and current) employees come through and drive your business forward.
Companies need to attract a more diverse balance of workers, such as more females into the profession; as currently only 10/11% of engineers are female. In July, 2018, the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter, as Part of the Aerospace Sector Deal, was officially launched by the Prime Minster, Teresa May, at the Farnborough International Airshow; a pledge for greater gender balance across the aviation and aerospace industries.
For those SMEs - continue to think differently; as technology is driving major innovation in the UK currently, and this is impacting the training provider’s curriculum agenda. Engineering firms should engage closely with FE/HE and private training providers through driving the training business models, and desired outputs.
What do you love most about your job?
The wide variety of organisations within the sector I deal with on a day-to-day basis; supporting SME firms to enable their business to grow: in finding the best people, and keeping the best people.
What do you like to get up to outside the office?
I am a volunteer Flying Officer with the RAF Air Cadets (RAFAC), as the Aerospace Officer/ Instructor for 2494 (Portishead) Squadron, in the Bristol & Glouc Wing. I also hold a UK CCA Private Pilot’s Licence, and try to get some flying in at Bodmin airfield - when time, money and weather allow me!
What would be your perfect Sunday?
I love being near the sea, with plenty of coastal headland walks, and a spot of lunch somewhere nice!
What would you be doing if you weren’t a Skills Adviser?
My perfect job – an Astronaut! (and why not!)
You can get in touch with Peter by emailing him, or calling 01275 373373
Business Skills Workshops
Our Skills West team is running a series of workshops throughout the Autumn, covering topics from recruitment and flexible working, to apprenticeships and developing your workforce.