At the end of the week I had the opportunity to meet up with some other businesses in East Sussex that have a few common threads under the heading of “Scale up East Sussex”. One of the threads is that we all work to differing degrees in the construction industry which varies from Architects, Builders and Electricians down to our role as Audio Visual installers. Another is that we are all committed to growing our businesses but equally we all face different challenges in achieving that result. As we discussed this on Thursday one of the matters that arose in our discussion which a number of us shared was the need to obtain training provision from local training sources. What was evident was that the training that is available in our area matches certain skill and technique issues that are relatively large scale solutions, but what appears to be very difficult to achieve is a more sophisticated approach with skills that will have something of a modular approach when compared to the more substantial mainstream provision. Then this morning a contact of mine, Matt Wilson who is a Councillor up in North Shields. His comment on facebook this morning was:
“One of the reasons that our economy remains sluggish is because we have a fundamental mismatch between the skills that are needed in the marketplace and the skills possessed by the working-age population. Right across the country huge skills gaps have emerged. Education and Training establishments are not offering the right courses and qualifications. People struggling to find secure work, or stuck in low-paid jobs, are not being offered the opportunity to skill-up to enter more fulfilling careers that will provide a better life for themselves and their families. As a local councillor its something I’m determined to get a grip of…”
I happen to agree with this statement and indeed if we were to have met with Matt on Thursday and if our businesses were based in the North Shields rather than East Sussex we might be one step further forward than our group was this week. I have no idea how well connected Matt is to local businesses and it is clear to me that local councils are not in a position to impose proposals onto local educational settings without a great deal of assistance from the Government which right now appears to be heavily distracted onto other matters. Perhaps some of the East Sussex Councillors will have views they could share or indeed perhaps we could obtain some responses from our local educational settings. Whatever is needed to make the changes, it is likely that our discussion and Matt’s posting both demonstrate a common theme that travels much further than our industry thread or our two geographical threads. Indeed given that East Sussex and North Shield Councils reflect two different political parties it would appear that this is not a party dominated matter. It is clear that we have a challenge to deal with across our nation as a matter of some priority!