Gareth is well placed to chair the Cambridge Ahead Skills Group due to his extensive knowledge and experience in training new skills, delivering apprenticeships, working with schools to increase careers engagement, and his awareness of the importance of skills development for solving resourcing issues.
The aim of the Cambridge Ahead Skills Group is to achieve an evidence-based understanding of the current position of skills in the region and to advocate for system changes which will address major gaps.
Below is an overview of some of the greatest issues facing young adults’ skills development in the Cambridge region, why they are important now, how the Cambridge Ahead Skills Group plan to tackle these, and how solving these issues can help resourcing in the future.
The greatest issue facing employers in the Cambridge region
Gareth recently ran a poll on LinkedIn, where 92% of respondents said their biggest issue was resourcing. This response illustrates how resourcing threats are currently the most significant limiting factor on business growth in our economy. Further emphasising the importance of recruiting, developing and retaining staff.
Why they are important now
Labour market supply was elevated to a strategic priority of Cambridge Ahead in October 2021. The work of the Cambridge Ahead Skills Group has never been more important and relevant…
….at a local level:
- Researching the gaps in local skills provision
- Helping members to engage with local schools and colleges to deliver careers advice to young adults
- Fostering strategic partnerships between employers and providers to plug skills gaps
- Exploring solutions to labour market shortages such as improving engagement with older workers to harness their huge value that often goes untapped
…at a national level:
- Influencing changes to apprenticeship policy
- Leading thought on the way the government can support cross-sectoral digital and decarbonisation skills development
- Considering the implications of the government’s Levelling Up agenda
How Cambridge Ahead’s Skills Group plan to tackle resourcing issues
The Levelling Up white paper identifies 12 missions and of those, two are directly related to the work of Cambridge Ahead; education and skills. Several others are fundamentally linked; housing, transport, digital connectivity, health, and living standards.
Educational levelling up will drive skills levelling up, which will aid productivity which will, in turn, drive wealth and living standards up. This will then aid health and increase the quality of life in the Cambridge region.
The white paper identifies six factors critical to driving levelling up, broadly consistent with the Six Capitals laid out in Cambridge Ahead’s New Era for the Cambridge Economy report. Three of those Capitals are about people; Human Capital, Knowledge Capital, and Social Capital.
The links between the levelling up policy and post-16 education and skills policy run deep and broad:
- The Skills for Jobs white paper
- The Lifetime Skills Guarantee
- The Lifelong Loan Entitlement
- The roll-out of T levels
- The School’s white paper
- A proposed Apprenticeship Levy review mentioned by the Chancellor in the Spring Statement
- The Skills and Post-16 Education Act
How Cambridge Ahead can help
We know how important knowledge and high-tech skills are to our global Cambridge economy, but also how critical the wider skills ecosystem is to supporting those global businesses. Cambridge Ahead is in a strong position to inform and shape the Local Skills Improvement Plans for our area and ensure that our member’s voices are effectively reflected due to the multitude of businesses that support the members of Cambridge Ahead.
Cambridge Ahead can help inform these local plans and ensure they are delivered with impact due to such a varied and experienced group of organisational and sector experts in the Skills Group. Each have specialisms that to contribute to our three strategic focus areas:
- Career education and school engagement. Young adults form an increasingly critical part of many of our talent pipelines and it is crucial that they have relevant advice to help them make decisions about their futures. These are areas it is clear the pandemic has hit hard and if central government won’t take the lead in preventing the long-term career scarring that is all too possible then we need to be part of the solution.
- Apprenticeships. These are still far too inconsistent in value for different sectors, different job roles and different employers. More flexibility in how levy funding can be invested is to be welcomed. Shorter, modular training interventions will be well suited to the dynamic nature of modern skills needs.
- Labour market supply and skills system responsiveness to industry trends, including digital skills and green skills supporting the net-zero transition. As well as the broader, transferable soft skills that are becoming the real value-add as automation, AI and other technologies continue to amplify human talent.
You can find out more about the Cambridge Ahead Skills Group here.
Or keep up with updates from Gareth John here.