Lizzie Lyons is the Business Skills Manager working on the Skills West project. She manages a small team of Skills Advisers and helps West of England businesses in the construction and rural and food economy sector tackle skills gaps and offers advice on a range of skills related matters. We caught up with Lizzie to find out more about her day job, how she can help companies and what she likes to get up to outside of the office.
Tell us a bit about yourself; your role as Business Skills Manager for Skills West and your career background?
I joined the Skills West project when it started back in January 2017. This project is joint funded through the Education Skills Funding Agency and the European Social Fund and aims to make education and training systems across the West of England more responsive to the needs of the labour market. As Business Skills Manager, I manage a small team of Skills Advisers, each of whom has their specific sector specialisms. In addition, I work with and support businesses in the Rural and Food economy sector and the Construction Sector. By gathering skills intelligence directly from businesses across these sectors we can work together with education to streamline and ensure the relevance of education and training in the region and work with the individual business to address their current and future skills, training and recruitment challenges.
I have had a varied career. Prior to joining this project I worked at the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership addressing skills challenges and opportunities associated with the development of Enterprise Zones and Areas across the West of England.
I have also had experience working with the Visitor Economy and retail sectors having worked for both Destination Bristol and the Tourism Skills Network South West. I was also a Special Constable with the Avon and Somerset Constabulary before family life took priority and limited the time I had to volunteer.
What is a typical day and / or week for you?
A typical day would mainly involve meeting local employers to discuss and address their current and future challenges, sourcing relevant training to match employers needs and discussing opportunities for businesses to engage in education. A typical day could equally involve the organization of events to encourage collaboration between education and industry, planning workshops based on employer demand, reviewing industry reports and writing industry reports.
What type of businesses do you work with?
I typically work with West of England businesses who fall within the Rural and Food Economy or Construction sectors however I regularly visit a broad spectrum of businesses from photographers to lawyers and cider makers to renewable energy companies – every business is different and equally interesting!
What sort of advice are you able to give to businesses in the West of England?
Our team of advisers can offer support to businesses regarding skills, training or recruitment challenges. We can also provide information about broader business support offered through Business West and across the wider West of England region. This can include advice about growth, innovation, access to education and access to funding.
What are the main challenges in your sector?
In the Food and Rural Economy sector Brexit is one of the greatest immediate challenges and the effect that this may have on some of the lower skilled roles that are currently fulfilled by EU workers. The sector also has an ageing workforce with as many as 40,000 people currently working in the sector expected to retire in the next 10 years. Alongside this the poor perception of the industry is still a big challenge with many young people not understanding or having any awareness of the opportunities that lie within this valuable industry. These challenges together contribute to a growing skills gap in this sector.
What would be your top tip to any businesses struggling with skills shortages?
Contact one of our advisers. We can offer free impartial advice and support, make introductions to local education and training providers and provide information about further funded support available across the region.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the flexibility and the range of businesses that we are fortunate to help.
What do you like to get up to outside the office?
Having a young family, being a governor of a local Primary School and living on the family farm means there’s not much time for rest and relaxation. Its not unusual to spend the weekend dashing from swimming lessons to kids’ parties whilst chasing around after sheep, cows or the odd chicken. When I do get a bit of ‘free time’ I enjoy Spinning, Pilates and Zumba and catching up friends.
Want to book an appointment with Lizzie? You can email her or call 01275 373373.
Meet the Skills West Team