Are you able to access appropriate education and training services in your local area?
And are skills shortages forcing you to change the way you work?
These are just some of the crucial questions Shropshire Chamber of Commerce are looking to answer as part of a project called the Local Skills Improvement Plan.
The chamber has been selected by the Department for Education to undertake this work across the Marches area, which covers Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, and Herefordshire. The 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 and social care.
Rosie Beswick, the Marches LSIPs Project Manager, said: “We are looking to do this through a combination of questionnaires, text polls, and one-to-one interviews with our researchers, all in total confidence. We need to engage with as many employers as possible, to ensure this vital information-gathering exercise is relevant, and truly reflective of the whole economy. The more information we are able to put into our report, the more benefit businesses stand to receive from it.
“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. It is absolutely crucial, in the current economic climate, that businesses and workers have access to the skills they need, to thrive and progress. Many employers are telling that this is simply not the case at the moment.
“Things can only change for the better if decision-makers had a clear understanding of current gaps in training provision, barriers to accessing training, and the suitability of the education curriculum to prepare students for the 21st century business world.
“Most importantly of all, though, the Government needs to know which direction businesses see their sector’s training needs going in the medium term, and how they plan to embrace new technology.
"What will the economic landscape across the Marches look like at the end of this decade? How will the demands to hit Net Zero targets be impacting on working practices? They are wide-ranging questions which need constructive debate.
"We’re working closely with our colleagues at Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber on the Marches LSIP project, and want to connect with as many businesses as possible over the next couple of months.
"This is an exciting opportunity to bring together employers, training providers and other key stakeholders at a time of great need.
"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 into 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.
Businesses who can find a few minutes to help with research can email Rosie at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email email@example.com.