This morning I attended the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce J6 business breakfast. We had a really interesting and enlightening talk from Fiona Jones of the Slough Aspire with a talk on “Bridging the Skills Gap” and why business needs to be involved in what is the next generation of employees.
I think we already find that we have a skills gap, especially in the information technology sector, but in the local area we also have a much lower availability of apprenticeships than the national average – only about 6% locally.
Whilst schools are starting to push apprenticeships as an alternative to a University there is a gap in the amount of courses and opportunity available to school leavers. Some interesting statistics came out at the meeting:- 73% of employers say that they were looking for attitude over skills at the interview and that 94% of employers say life skills are more important than qualifications. Perhaps this says that skills can be taught but attitudes can not (perhaps although attitudes can be slowly changed).
There are so many opportunities for businesses to become involved in helping the next generation but there seems to be a gap in the knowledge of what is even out there to help. Fiona listed out some of the organisations available to help businesses and almost none of the people on my table had heard of any of them! That alone was pretty shocking. The first step would seem to talk to a local education provider to see how your business can be helped.
So what is fairly clear to me is that we all have a part to play in making sure we have the right staff employed within our organisations. To leave it to someone else is really not a solution, so as Fiona said “Are you part of the solution or part of the problem”. I’m hoping to make Kehorne part of the solution!