Skills within our workforce need to be drastically improved

Fay Daniels
Marketing Executive - Enterprise | Business West
21st May 2018

Skills shortages is one of the most frequently reported barriers to business growth in the West of England according to the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership.

This statement is backed up by results from Business West’s 2017 Business Skills and Training Survey, which showed 52% of businesses who tried to recruit in the previous 12 months found it difficult to fill vacancies and 68.5% blamed a low number of applicants with the required skills and qualifications. In order for the economy to grow, skills within our workforce need to be drastically improved at a regional and national level.

“The skills shortage is prevalent across the country and this, coupled with our low unemployment rate in the West of England, means businesses struggle to recruit the right staff for now and in the future,” explains Nicky Williams, Head of Skills at Business West. “We need to make sure businesses understand all of the recruitment and training options available to them and make an effort to work with education providers to ensure future training provision is relevant to their needs.”

With this in mind, Business West has recently launched its 2018 Business Skills and Training Survey which gives businesses across the West of England an unprecedented opportunity to help shape the upcoming skills agenda of the region, enabling them to overcome longstanding recruitment issues and plan for the future.

The survey, now in its third year, delves deeper into the skills, training and recruitment needs of all sizes of businesses, gathering intelligence that will help feed into the overall West of England Skills Strategy and ensure that education and training provision in the region is relevant to business needs.

Responses will also assist in shaping 2019’s Local Sector Skills Statements, put together by the Skills West team at Business West. The statements present an overview of the sub-region’s industry sectors and strengths set against regional skills priorities. They include, wider regional and national intelligence, allowing readers to gain insight about the skills and training priorities and objectives for their industry sector. 

Nicky continues, “The aim of the Skills West programme is to help to close the skills gaps and challenges in the region by providing a collaborative platform for business and training providers to work together. We want to ensure workforce skill levels are fit for the challenges of the future and the starting point for this is knowing exactly what specific challenges businesses are facing in each of their sectors and as a whole.”

The survey only takes 10 minutes to answer and is easily completed online here . It is open to businesses in the Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire local authority areas. Every company that completes the survey will also be entered into a prize draw to win a £200, £75 or £50 Amazon or Cabot Circus gift voucher (T&Cs apply).

As part of Business West, Skills West provides impartial skills advice to businesses across the West of England. A team of Business Skills Advisers can offer advice on a range of topics from apprenticeships and funding to where to find the most relevant training for your staff. If you would like to know more, please visit

  • Have you thought about skills development?

    Whether it's up-skilling your existing workforce or bringing in an apprentice, our Skills West team can help you ensure your business has the skilled individuals to achieve business growth.

Do you want to join the conversation?

Sign up here
  • Skills West logo

  • Business Skills and Training Survey 2018

    Do you have the right skills in your business for the year ahead? Our short survey asks about skills and recruitment in your business to help us understand the challenges faced by employers in the West of England.