Successful Skills Conference focuses on higher level skills
More than 100 people from Warwickshire’s business and education communities came together at Warwickshire County Council’s (WCC’s) annual skills conference.
Representatives from the worlds of business and education discussed ways higher level skills can help drive the region’s economic growth.
During the breakfast conference, delegates heard from Monica Fogarty, Chief Executive, WCC who outlined the priorities of the new all-age Careers Strategy which the Council is currently developing and will consult on in the spring with a view to publication in the summer.
David Ayton-Hill, Economy & Skills Group Manager, WCC, gave delegates plenty of key data and information to consider about the county’s skills picture now, and in the future including:
Between 2012-2022, 60% of jobs that will need filling will require higher level skills Higher level skills are those needing qualifications at Level 4 and above. (Level 4 includes: Higher Apprenticeships, Certificate of Higher Education, Higher National Certificate and Level 4 NVQ.) The attributes associated with higher level skills and increasingly needed are: higher cognitive functions of creativity and processing complex information; social and emotional skills such as taking initiative, management and leadership; and technological skills including advanced IT skills and programming. Despite Warwickshire seeing a strong growth in the proportion of the population with a Level 4+ qualification (increasing from 31% in 2010 to just over 40% in 2017), recent data suggests that up to 50% of people with these higher level qualifications are working in roles that do not require them. There is a need to better connect our businesses with our education providers to enable a better matching of roles, skills and behaviours to support our continued growth and make best use of this growing highly skilled population.
At the event Cllr Peter Butlin, Deputy Leader of Warwickshire County Council Warwickshire County Council announced an innovative Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Programme for small businesses. Many large employers, including the County Council, struggle to fully utilise their Apprenticeship Levy. Utilising the new flexibilities, the County Council aims to transfer up to £300,000 per year to help support smaller, non-levy paying businesses, such as organisations operating in the adult social and child care sector, and cover their apprenticeship training costs.
Delegates at the free breakfast conference, which took place at Stoneleigh Park on Wednesday 6 March, also heard an interesting summary of how employers can access the graduate talent pool from Professor Pat Tissington, Academic Director of Employability and Skills, University of Warwick; insights into how FE colleges can help, from Neil Coker, Director of Warwickshire College, Rugby and finally an overview of the range of exciting skills initiatives being undertaken at The Coleshill School from Headteacher, Ian Smith-Childs.
Ian Smith-Childs, Headteacher, The Coleshill Schools said: “The County Council Skills Conference is an invaluable opportunity for schools and businesses to network and I would encourage all schools to get involved. Every year my school has benefited from a project or business connection that started at the conference.”
Lively discussion took place round the tables, coming up with a number of ideas of how WCC, businesses and education providers can help businesses tackle skills shortages and gaps. Several delegates stressed the importance of identifying and communicating changing future skills needs as soon as possible to enable providers to respond by aligning their provision. The county council is going to explore ways of doing this.
Cllr Colin Hayfield, County Council Portfolio Holder for Education and Learning, said: “What an excellent conference. It’s great to see so many partners from the worlds of business and education coming together to help shape our skills activity for years to come. At the County Council we are working hard, with our partners, to ensure that all our young people - whatever their skills and abilities - are able to gain the skills they need to obtain worthwhile and fulfilling jobs now and in the future.”
The Skills Conference is a key element of Warwickshire County Council's £3 million Skills for Employment programme which has funded more than 40,000 careers and employability activities in more than 600 local businesses during the last four years.