The Head of North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration (NWEDR) presented a verbal update in respect of Skills in the Local Workforce. During the presentation, the following was highlighted for Members’ consideration:
· Support programmes around employment, skills and apprenticeships were currently being developed by NWEDR
· There were a number of providers who delivered courses for 16-21-year olds. It was reported that the skillsets targeted in the courses included CV preparation, communications and working in teams. In addition to these, there were topic specific courses such as customer service and construction along with Maths and English. Independent providers delivered these courses as did the Heart of Worcestershire College (HoW).
· Worcestershire County Council provided skills support through their website. A Skills Hub service had recently been launched and was available to employers and individuals.
· A number of apprenticeship grants were available to young people and initiatives were in place to enable young people to be matched with suitable placements and vacancies within the Borough.
· The provision of courses from HoW College was aligned with the supply and demand from local businesses and employers. Officers reported that there were four top sectors that accounted for employment in the Borough. These were identified as manufacturing, wholesale and retail, professional services and human health and social work. It was reported that new sectors were also emerging including digital technology and artificial intelligence and although these might have an impact on manufacturing and retail, they would also provide an enormous opportunity for young people. Officers advised that it was important, to ensure that young people were equipped with the correct skills and knowledge to undertake jobs within these sectors. Members were informed that the college did provide some relevant courses in these areas but that discussions were ongoing to ensure that the right infrastructure was in place to face challenges and maximise potential opportunities.
· Initiatives and support measures were communicated to local businesses and individuals through various business networks and channels, although it was considered a challenge to reach every single business and individual.
Members expressed an interest in whether intervention could be made earlier in young peoples’ education in respect of training and skills. It was confirmed that there was an initiative that was currently underway in the Borough named ‘Opening Doors to Business’. This scheme promoted the opportunities to a greater number of schools across a variety of ages. It was reported that an initiative called ‘Stem Works’ was also being undertaken by Worcestershire County Council in Primary Schools.
The Chair invited Councillor Dormer, as Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Development, Commercialism and Partnerships, to comment on the presentation. He acknowledged that there were challenges in this area for the Borough and that the perception of available employment in the Town needed to change going forward.
The Chair questioned whether local businesses could do more to engage with young people and it was agreed that although there were projects in place, such as mentoring, more needed to be done to increase engagement and regarding the provision of relevant courses in order to close the skills gap in the Borough.
the Skills in the Local Workforce presentation be noted.