The Importance of preparing businesses’ future workforce

As we enter a new decade, demographic, technological and labour market changes are moving at a rapid pace. Businesses need to play an active role in the career’s advice given to young people currently in school who will form the future workforce. Connecting with those currently in education and inspiring them will only serve to elevate both young people’s knowledge of the opportunities available to them and the supply of labour to the local economy.

Amid a national skills shortage and recruitment crisis, results from our most recent economic research show that 55% of businesses experienced difficulties during the recruitment process. Of the businesses surveyed, 45% identified attracting and retaining skilled workers to their business as their greatest concern.

A further 31% of businesses who took part in the research identified the lack of work-ready young people for the future workforce as a significant barrier to growth for their business. The Careers & Enterprise Company’s Closing the Gap 2019 report, reveals that more and more young people are benefiting from the opportunities to engage with employers, but the country is still falling short of providing these opportunities for all young people.

One area in which Worcestershire is leading the way is with Enterprise Advisers, who are volunteers working directly with the leadership of individual schools and colleges. These volunteers, drawn from business and other employers, large and small, help to develop effective employer engagement plans and ensure that all our young people receive encounters with employers and make informed choices as they prepare to enter the workplace.

Advisers work closely with the Headteacher or Senior Leadership Team of a school or college to provide strategic support and use their business experience and professional networks to help. With the support of the Strategic Careers Lead, Enterprise Advisors will help add value to the school’s careers, enterprise and employer engagement strategy.

Matt Tope, Worcestershire Careers Hub Manager, said: “The Enterprise Adviser Network really is the most important system we have in place for employers that want to address the skills gap, for schools that want to improve their understanding of the careers market and for the young people that want to thrive in the future world of work. Enterprise Advisers form the vital cog in this system by imparting their expert knowledge to enable employers, schools and young people to work together more closely.”

“The county is well known for having the most engagement with Enterprise Advisers in England and, to Worcestershire’s credit, we currently have 80 Enterprise Advisers volunteering in 65 High Schools, SEN establishments, Middle schools and Colleges. I can’t stress enough how influential this has been in helping to boost the prospects of younger generations from all backgrounds.”

The more individuals from our great business community that can get involved working with our schools and colleges as part of the Enterprise Adviser Network, the more our youngsters will benefit and the better it will be for the long-term health of our economy.

The chance for businesses to speak directly with education providers and the students themselves, who are the future workforce, allows to not only to bridge the gap between education and the workplace, giving youngsters an inspiring insight into the world of work and creating high-quality careers advice and resources, it also can provide the opportunity to influence young people that a specific sector is attractive and a great environment to be a part of, businesses can benefit by getting the chance to grow their own talent and address skills shortage specific to their industry.

As a County, Worcestershire are working towards closing the skills gap and giving young people access to the support they need in order to be ready for the business environment; Worcestershire Skills Show is Worcestershire’s largest careers event and provides you people in school with the ability to interact with employers from a variety of industries. The Worcestershire Skills Show will return in 2020 on Wednesday 4 March and is free to attend for employers.

Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) together with Worcestershire County Council has launched a new call to action for Worcestershire and its businesses entitled ‘Inspiring Worcestershire: Creating our Future Workforce’. The campaign aims to reduce the county’s skills gap and raise awareness of the employment opportunities in Worcestershire. They are asking businesses to help educate and shape our young people to make positive careers choices for Worcestershire.

Last week marked the annual celebration of apprentices across England and has been recognised by Government as a national exemplar for promoting apprenticeships.

During the past year, the Worcestershire Apprenticeship Hub was able to advise over 25,000 young people about apprenticeships in visits and activities with local schools. Last year also marked the highest attended Worcestershire Apprenticeship Show to date with over 3,000 people attending to engage with local businesses and training providers.

Worcestershire Apprenticeship Hub is also responsible for running the Education Business Partnership which is a database of over 4000 Worcestershire employers who support schools with work experience and other vital learning activities.

The Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce are focussing on strategic businesses that links with education providers and also works in conjunction with the Worcestershire LEP and Worcestershire Apprenticeships Hub to help bridge the gap.

The Chamber also provides support to employers to attract and retain appropriately skilled workers through Skills Engagement Manager, Nicola Hope, who’s role is to work with businesses in Worcestershire to tackle their skills shortage and improving links between education and business.

Businesses can also obtain advice and guidance around apprenticeships as a route to ‘growing your own talent’ and upskilling existing members of staff through utilising the apprenticeship levy (if applicable) of government funding.

If your business would like to engage with the Chamber on working with schools or colleges, or if you wish to find out more information on Enterprise Advisers, you can contact our Skills Engagement Manager by email NicolaH2@hwchamber.co.uk.

Pictured: Past and Current Apprentices of Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce together with Dawn Hardman, Director of HR.