Business support service calls on Metro Mayor to launch skills revolution to end recruitment crisis

October 12, 2017

A skills revolution is needed in the West of England to solve the recruitment problem now hitting many of the region’s firms, Metro Mayor Tim Bowles has been told.

The message was delivered to him by the head of national business support service GetSet for Growth, who said ‘hard-to-fill’ posts were hitting many of the region’s high-growth firms.

Bev Hurley CBE, chief executive officer of YTKO Group, which runs GetSet for Growth, made the plea to Mayor Bowles in response to the most recent recruitment figures for the West of England, which reveal that 47% of businesses are reporting hard to fill vacancies.

Some key sectors in the regional economy are finding the shortage of workers even more acute – the figure rises to 74% for the advanced engineering and aerospace industry.      

Mayor Bowles, as head of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) – which spans Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire – has responsibility for its adult education budget and implementing skills initiatives, such as the new regional Work and Health Programme.

He was one of three directly-elected combined authority mayors to take up office last year, joining a growing number of directly-elected city mayors with devolved powers over their local skills agenda.

Bev said: “Many of the 700 businesses for which GetSet for Growth has provided support tell us that improved worker skills are the key to filling vacancies, which is a big step towards the achievement of their business aims.

“The new cohort of mayors across England provides the opportunity for a skills revolution. Their powers mean training can be determined locally to meet local needs. The focus of discussion in early days of combined authorities has been on housing and transport. It’s now time to get to work on skills and equip the workforce for the economic challenges ahead.

“For our part in this revolution, GetSet for Growth is listening to businesses from sole traders to small employers across sectors including construction, manufacturing engineering and retail. We’re creating skills programmes for people to manage a combination of markets, people and money to create success.”

WECA has already begun to capture funding to boost skills investment in the region. Some £3.9mn was recently announced for an Innovation Pilot to support social housing tenants into secure, more meaningful and better-paid careers.

Mayor Bowles, who was met Bev at the Business Showcase South West business exhibition in Bristol this week, said: “I am committed to improving people’s skills and supporting our residents to benefit from the prosperity and opportunities available in the West of England region.

“Our local councils and the combined authority cannot achieve this aim alone. I also see business support organisations, like GetSet for Growth, as an important part of driving up skills.”

GetSet for Growth is part of the Enterprising West of England project backed by the European Regional Development Fund with Business West, The Princes Trust and the four local authorities across the region, including North Somerset. 

Pictured: Bev Hurley CBE, chief executive officer of YTKO Group, with Metro Mayor Tim Bowles. Photo by Jon Craig. @JonCraig_Photos





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