Two-thirds (68%) of UK employers struggle to find workers with the right skills (according to The Open University Business Barometer report 2019). But what can we do in the region to make positive change and how can we work together to help reduce or even eradicate this issue?
With a growing skills gap, it is important that we start looking to the future to reverse the trend. How can we help our future workforce to be better equipped with the skills needed to bridge the gap? This is a problem that is best solved by joint input. Whilst there are changes that are needed within education to help make this happen, there is an awful lot that businesses owners can, and should do to help secure their future workforce. With input from the Business we can help to ensure that the workforce of tomorrow is fit for purpose, and that the education available is relevant.
But what can you do here and now to make a difference to help close the skills mismatch?
1. Support grassroots initiatives – Bridging the gap between industry and education is imperative to help make learning relevant to the world of work. By working to support your local schools through initiatives such as North East Ambition, you can not only make a positive influence on the students and their career choices and aspirations, but you can also bring your invaluable real life experience and industry relevant knowledge to the classroom. When businesses and schools work in partnership it can produce substantial benefits for everybody involved. Impacting positively on young people’s awareness and experience of the workplace, whilst also increasing staff morale and skills for the business’s employees.
2. Consider Apprenticeships – An apprenticeship offers the perfect combination of on and off-the-job training helping to build their theoretical knowledge and practical skills, whilst gaining real life experience working in the industry. Apprenticeships can also help businesses to grow, as they develop relevant skills, whilst generating a qualified and motivated workforce. With 96% of apprentice employers reporting great benefits to their business, from improved competitiveness, to increased staff retention and a big saving on recruitment costs.
3. Upskill staff and encourage career progression – Considering that 80% of 2030 workers are already in the workforce today, shows that we need to not purely focus on the next generation, but also need to look at how we can upskill the current workforce. Our education strategy needs to engage young people as well as educating a wider range of generations. A good vocational training strategy will help to retain staff and ensure employees have the relevant skills to do their current job more efficiently, whilst helping them to make progression within the organisation.
4. Have your say in influencing education policy – This is an issue that not just affects business today. Looking ahead the skills shortage will have a huge impact on companies across the region and the local economy. Which is why it is important that we have our say, to help influence education policy going forward. Industry knowledge and input, is key to ensuring that education is fit for purpose for the future workforce.
With 91% of UK organisations struggling to find workers with the right skills over the past 12 months, North East Ambition aims to help by bridging the gap between industry and education in order to not just inspire and educate our future workforce, but also to nurture and upskill the current workforce. Whilst helping organisations to impact the curriculum and influence the skills agenda, to ensure the future workforce have the skills needed to close the gap.
North East Ambition is led by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and is funded by the European Social Fund. Delivery partners include The Edge Foundation, the EY Foundation, RTC North and STEM learning Ltd. North East Ambition works with every secondary school, college and special education school in the North East to support them to achieve the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks by 2024. By doing this, every young person should be able to identify routes to a successful working life, make more informed decisions about their future and be better prepared for the workplace. Ensuring young people have the skills required for the future North East workforce is fundamental to our economic growth, underpinning our aim of driving an uplift of 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024.
For more information about North East Ambition and how it can help your company, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or the STEM team at 01915164400