All the noise and excitement centred around the election of a new UK Prime Minister this month has meant that once again politics – and in particular the associated implications for Brexit – has dominated the news headlines.
With a possible no-deal Brexit on the cards, the business world is usually depicted as bearing the brunt of the current uncertain situation. But in fact, many forward-looking companies are taking an optimistic view and choosing to upskill and retrain their existing employees as a positive step towards remaining competitive in the global market place.
Equipping people with the right skills is essential if we are to make a success of post-Brexit Britain. And there are other benefits too – employee retention, productivity levels, job satisfaction and workplace morale are all improved when employees are upskilled and retrained.
In the past government funds were largely directed towards helping the unemployed, but now things are changing. The UK unemployment rate is currently at its lowest level since 1974, at 3.8%, with the West Midlands running at 5 %. So, it makes sense to work to sustain the current high employment levels by changing the emphasis and slanting funding towards improving the skills of existing employees.
Promotion of digital skills is a key area here. Although the UK is in the top four of all EU member states in terms of equipping its population with basic digital skills, there is still a digital skills gap in our country, with 27 % of UK citizens aged between 16-74 lacking basic ability in this area. Given the generally accepted prediction that an estimated 9 out of 10 jobs will require digital skills in the future there is evidently work to be done. And if free movement of people becomes more difficult post-Brexit, then investment in homegrown talent will become even more important.
It’s a new approach, requiring a new solution. The skills market in general needs to be adaptable – no one training provider can tackle this job on their own. We need to work in partnership, each bringing our own strengths to the table. It is also important to have a local focus. To adapt the African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, I say that it takes a community to meet local goals and objectives.
At PET-Xi we are leading the way in this progressive approach to training by partnering with other training providers to come up with the solutions that best help local people get ahead.
By working together we can offer an unbeatable overall package that is best of breed – with each partner bringing their own strengths to the table.
For our part we excel at engagement, connecting with even the most reluctant learners in a way that brings our famous ‘xplosive inspiration’ results. We are known for our constant track record of success in community engagement – and we are also renowned for going the extra mile to help learners stay engaged and on-track for success.
Our partners, including People Plus, have other established networks, for example in the youth justice and probation system. By bringing all these networks together – and all being the best at what we do – we are stronger, more focussed on the long-term and better able to overcome any obstacles.
It’s a very new way of thinking – but one that I believe the new Prime Minister and his cabinet should note. Don’t fear and avoid your competition – partner with it, trust it and think of the greater good. Think what will get the best results and then work with the people who will help you provide that solution. Open your doors and showcase yourself.
Here in the West Midlands I know that we are now building a truly effective training network which will meet local needs and make the whole region stronger. After all everyone deserves the chance to have top class opportunities in their community, on their doorstep.