See it and you can be it – know it and you can grow it – transparency will unlock the UK’s skills conundrum
This white paper – ‘Rethinking the skills conundrum: Connecting the dots between people, place and productivity’ was launched at The Science Museum in London, with a panel of experts debating how this novel approach could prove transformational for UK plc. Joining Zoe Price, Global Chief Operating Officer at ISG were Susan Raikes, Director of Learning at The Science Museum Group, David White, Chief Operating Officer at Rolls-Royce (RR) SMR and Rosa Wells, Executive Dean for Engineering, Digital and Sustainable Construction at University College Birmingham.Download ISG's latest research here
From Rosa’s perspective, Birmingham is slightly further ahead in terms of devolution, and its approach to looking at the adult education skills budget means: “…we've been working really closely with our combined authority to look at what does that skills mapping exercise look like regionally? So what are employers telling us that we need, and what do colleges and universities need to develop in response? Where we can be really agile and put short courses on quickly to upskill, and where we need a longer series of pipelines.” Linking up nationally is so important to give that overview of demand and avoid duplication.
In response to Zoe’s question about the issue of inward investment, and how an approach bringing greater transparency to planned physical infrastructure spending could reap rewards, David was first to offer his perspective.
Rosa’s experience working with engineering consultancy firms indicates that when you scale up the collaborations, you can make a meaningful impact on skills shortages. Around seven years ago a group was convened to address a shortage of technicians in the sector. “While these firms were competing for contracts and business, they were all looking for the same skills. By coming together and agreeing on common skill sets, we were able to work with them to develop the apprenticeship that they needed. They could find locations in different areas of the country where they were confident that those colleges or universities would deliver against those skills, and it gave them the sort of negotiation power to be able to find the right skills for them.”
“So if we can get business working more closely together with each other in the skill space, it will make us all stronger, because then we're not just competing and poaching staff, we're actually developing a stronger pipeline.” Rosa also mentioned the importance of lifelong learning and not just seeing this as an issue for young people – there’s a broad resource and talent pool within the UK.
ISG’s report highlighted a concerning trend that organisations in the UK are actually investing less today in skills than their counterparts in the EU and beyond. Zoe asked the panel if greater accessibility to data mapping workplace opportunity with the skills demanded by industry/sector could redress this imbalance.
Rosa flags the under-representation and poor gender balance that we have in certain sectors and in STEM pathways. “So looking at networks for female engineers and young engineers to come together to be supported and find mentoring as well will help retain talent.”
Building on this point Susan recognised that “We've all been talking about STEM skills gap and challenging talent pipelines for a long time, and lots of people have been working really hard on it. And still, we have a problem. So the thing that we haven't done, is really join up together and identify, as your report does, and look more collectively at where the challenges and gaps are and what training we need.”
Construction: the great overlooked tool in our strategic workforce planning
Our latest Wide Angle, ‘Rethinking the skills conundrum’, seeks to connect the dots between people, place and productivity.