Over the past few months, Cumbria Chamber and partners have been working hard on the research phase of the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP), a Department for Education funded initiative which aims to set out the key priorities needed to make technical education and skills provision more responsive to the changing needs of employers.
We’d like to thank all of you who have contributed to our research so far by filling out the survey, attending a focus group or 1-2-1 meeting.
Ahead of the submission of the full report at the end of May, we have now released draft findings on our website for comment. The full Priorities, Issue and Opportunities document can be accessed here, with findings relating to all sectors included in the research; these are construction, energy, manufacturing/engineering (with a subset of food & drink), landbased, social care and visitor economy.
As well as going into detail about the issues and opportunities affecting each sector, the document also highlights several cross cutting themes, a selection of which are listed below.
Employers across every sector are experiencing skills shortages. These shortages relate to both people with existing skills and people who can be trained. Proposed solutions include getting more young people into apprenticeships and progressing existing staff into more senior roles. The latter of which requires more recruitment at entry level, which is posing a challenge for many businesses.
Employee behaviours & emotional intelligence
Employers report a need for improved behaviours and emotional intelligence particularly in young people but also in some already in the workforce. This is felt most, but not solely, in customer facing sectors such as retail and food & beverage. These skills include dealing with difficult people/situations, dealing with complaints, communication, teamworking, managing emotions, empathy and self-motivation.
Although the apprenticeship route is widely used in Cumbria, it has the potential to be further improved if certain concerns are addressed. Issues include a limited understanding of apprenticeship programs among some employers, difficulties in sourcing apprentices and the use of the levy, and managing the time spent away from work.
Finding the right training
Businesses have highlighted challenges in finding suitable training programs, even with the assistance of HR or learning and development experts. Some are opting for providers located out of county, despite local availability, simply because that’s where they’ve found contacts. Another concern is the tendency towards short termism, with businesses requesting training in a reactive manner with tight deadlines, leaving insufficient time for providers to make the training available (due to capacity constraints or development time).
This overview gives you a taste of the extensive findings included in the document which also highlights opportunities for some of these issues to be addressed.