Businesses from across the Marches have been sharing their experiences of recruitment difficulties and skills shortages in the current economic climate.
Employers from a wide range of sectors have already responded to a call to take part in the Government-funded Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) research, which is being led locally by Shropshire Chamber of Commerce.
Marches LSIP project manager Rosie Beswick said there had been a strong reaction from companies who were keen to have their say. Have you had your say yet?
“Our mission is to gain a better understanding of the skills training requirements over the next three to five years in specific sectors including engineering, manufacturing, professional services, construction, environmental technologies, and health & social care.
“We need to engage with as many employers as possible, and we’re very grateful to those who have already come forward to help with our research.”
The LSIP project has been sparked by a new Government White Paper which sets out an ambitious plan to put employers firmly at the heart of the skills system.
And employers have already revealed some forthright and honest opinions when it comes to discussing their individual circumstances.
A global manufacture and supply chain company said: “Large warehousing, though now common, does not seem to be seen as a career and so there are few suitable courses available to our senior warehouse management staff.”
And a medium-sized professional services company was concerned about bookkeeping skills, saying: “Graduate accountants are often not taught double entry bookkeeping – the backbone of accountancy in the UK.
“This means we have to train them so they can understand the client’s questions, which seems crazy when they have had three years of university.”
Construction skills training was also an issue for one manufacturer and construction company which said: “Many construction courses only teach for on-site skills, yet there are construction skills that are needed in factories.
“This will become even greater as modular and more technical build moves to factories, arriving on site pre-constructed, so this needs to be understood.”
Another small professional services firm said although young people used social media platforms constantly, their skills did not necessarily transfer.
“Soft skills, such as communication, being IT capable not with social media but with Excel spreadsheets or having presentation skills seems something that is so lacking now. We assume the young are tech savvy, they are on social platforms but have no idea how to write an email to a client.”
Rosie said it was vital for employers to continue to come forward so that the vital LSIP information-gathering exercise was relevant and truly reflective of the whole economy.
“The more information we are able to put into our report, the more benefit local businesses stand to receive from it.
“We know that the inability to recruit the right calibre of skilled staff is holding companies back, so we must ensure that post-16 technical education and training is as closely aligned as possible to the needs of local employers.
“There is a lot of good work being done across the Marches region, but the idea of this project is to bring it all together in a more structured and collaborative approach.
“Our aim is to create an environment for the sharing of best practice to create the best possible outcomes for businesses and workers across all corners of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, and Herefordshire.”
- There is also more information about the LSIP project on the policy and representation page of the Shropshire Chamber website, www.shropshire-chamber.co.uk/policy-representation