Rethinking skills and recruitment - West of England ahead of the game

Nicky Williams
Head of Skills | Business West
16th March 2017

Skills West - a new service for the West of England region, was officially launched by Business West at Leigh Court on Friday 17 March. 

With free impartial advice and support from Skills West, businesses can connect with local and national training providers to ensure they receive quality training, which is tailored specifically to their business needs.

This new service is well placed to help address a growing skills shortage and a lack of skills development in the region. The launch was well timed just a week after the Chancellor’s Budget which earmarked £5m of skills funding support to help people returning to work following a career break. Alongside this further support was given to the introduction of ‘T’ levels to raise the status of technical and vocational qualifications. 

Speaking at the launch of Skills West, Phil Smith, Managing Director at Business West, commented:

“Broadband speeds, business rates and the uncertainty of Brexit are some of the more frequent concerns that I hear from amongst our 21,000 businesses. Unfortunately, skills shortages too often beats all these as the most challenging issue faced by businesses in the West of England.

“With the impact on the labour market that the uncertainty of Brexit has created, and with Government spending less money on workforce development programmes, the role of Skills West is vital. It is ideally positioned to stimulate greater dialogue between the Skills Providers of WTPN and Business West’s 21,000 businesses, resulting in a more efficient workforce training marketplace. 

“The launch event was really well attended which indicates to me that the West of England is serious about the future of skills development in the region.”

Nicky Williams, Head of Skills at Business West said:

“Encouraging people back to work is crucial for providing businesses with the skills and talent pipeline that they need. Companies across the region are facing skills shortages, with low levels of unemployment, so it’s more important than ever to support those who have taken career breaks to get back into business.

“Skills West can help businesses address their skills shortages, with ‘returnships’ being a vital part of meeting their skills needs and requirements. Alongside this skills support for businesses we are also supporting individuals back into work through the creation of innovative pre-recruitment training. 

“It’s a very exciting time for the region and we really are ahead of the game in re-thinking skills and recruitment models.”

On the Chancellor’s Budget announcement to invest in technical skills, Nicky Williams, said: 

“Business communities across the region tell us that improved technical education and stronger workplace experience are needed to help them fill the skills gaps they face.

“These skills related Budget announcements represent an important step in the right direction over the coming years. Here at Business West, through the Skills West programme, we are working with business, educational institutions, training providers and government to ensure that new technical qualifications and apprenticeship standards provide exactly what businesses need.”

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