Last updated: 22.05.13

Skills 'crucial' to securing company success

A Swindon business training expert has spoken of the need for the local Skills and Employment Board to engage with as many companies as possible.

Nicky Alberry, chairman at Influence, Swindon's economic partnership, said the panel must do all it can to discover the training that firms need and where the skills gaps are lurking, Wiltshire Business Online reports.

For this to happen, she claimed an integrated approach is "vital" and the board must recognise that education should sit side by side with learning and skills - so the demand for certain training at a particular time can be met locally.

The Skills and Employment Board - which is made up of representatives from major organisations such as Nationwide, JobCentre Plus and Forward Swindon - met for the first time last month and decided there is room for improvement in various aspects of the workforce. It agreed these need to be addressed before a strategy can be devised to boost skills in the town.

It must be taken into account that the landscape of learning is set to change in the coming years and Ms Alberry pointed to the fact that in 2015, Raising the Participation Age will come into effect, which will dictate that all young people remain in education or training until the age of 18.

While this does not mean they have to stay at school, they will need to commit to some sort of career development programme, whether it is further education or an apprenticeship.

Ms Alberry said: "One of the board's tasks will be to help align such programmes to the current and future skills needs of our employers."

One way companies could close the skills gaps among their employees is by turning to more effective training methods, such as e-learning. As well as saving firms money, it also means staff can access resources in their spare time and work from the comfort of their homes.

Virtual College - which is based in West Yorkshire - offers online courses in various workplace issues, from health and safety to first aid training.