The Prime Minister’s Industrial Strategy announced earlier this week has at its heart perhaps the greatest challenge we have in UK industry - the lack of skills development.
The West of England is home to a strong knowledge based economy with near full employment. But, there remains widespread skills shortages across the region which is set to increase over the next 5 years, with new businesses attracted to the region and development of large infrastructure projects.
Skills West, a new impartial skills service delivered by Business West, is setting out to help businesses tackle the growing skills shortage across the region. Providing free impartial skills advice tailored to business needs across the West of England, it will bring businesses and skills provision closer together to help solve many of the growing challenges.
Phil Smith, managing director of Business West commented:
”Given the significant skills gaps that so many firms continue to face, the Industrial Strategy's strong emphasis on boosting skills and further education will be cheered by businesses. The launch of Skills West at this crucial stage is perfect timing as businesses cannot wait to address skills shortages; they need to think smarter about their skills needs and requirements. That’s exactly what Skills West has been set up to do; we’ll provide a one stop advice and referral service to ensure that businesses have the talented individuals they need to achieve business growth.”
Alex Richards, operations director at Western Training Providers Network said:
“The current skills of individuals in the region are disconnected from the true needs of business. We are seeking to address this gap in partnership with Business West by connecting businesses with training providers who can provide bespoke and tailored training. Skills West is suitable for any business no matter what their stage of growth from start-ups, to businesses seeking to grow to those that are considering new markets.”
This £2 million contract, delivered for the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and funded through the European Social Fund and Skills Funding Agency, will be delivered in partnership with the Western Trainers Provider Network, which includes the four colleges in the region and University of the West of England. In addition, through the service businesses will be able to access a wide range of training provision and be part of creating new solutions to meet business needs.