THE need for skills in our region is becoming more and more important, particularly as the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) develops its agenda to create more employment.
Businesses like my own, Jaguar Land Rover, continue to expand and grow and we are taking on more and more staff. As technology advances, the need to match it with relevant skills will become more critical.
Everyone has a part to play in addressing the skills we are going to need in the future. As parents, do we recognise the importance of ensuring that our kids are in school? As employers, are we being proactive in working with education providers to let them know what skills we are looking for? Are education providers in tune with what businesses want and what kids want? All questions we must answer positively.
We all need to reinvest in building our skills. There is still a dearth of the basic three Rs which would make school leavers more employable.
There is a lot of good work going on out there but it will take everyone’s efforts to close the skills gap. Brenda Shiels, principal of Solihull College, is a great example of someone who really understands what makes business tick.
Solihull Chamber runs a partners in education scheme helping to bring business and schools together. Local schools run careers days and workshops and are looking for business input. These are so useful for businesses to find out what schools are doing and how they can help schools produce future good employees. Reynalds Cross School is currently looking for companies who can provide work experience placements and taster days for students with a variety of special needs, and that’s just one example of many.
As president of Solihull Chamber of Commerce and as chair of the Employment and Skills Board for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, I have a really good perspective of the skills that businesses are looking for.
In November this year, Europe’s largest skills and careers event will be held at the NEC. From November 15-17, businesses, schools and colleges will find career guidance, advice on training, apprenticeships and job opportunities.
The Chamber is holding an event on July 26 to encourage companies to take on apprentices with a £1,550 grant available for SMEs who take on their first apprentice.
The employment and skills agenda is very much in focus and if we want to feed and nourish economic growth then we must all play our part.