Below is Somerset EBP’s informative response to the BCC Workplace Training and Development Commission.
Somerset Education Business Partnership connects employers with education providers to assist:
- Businesses to identify future talent
- Education providers to strengthen business connections
- Learners to develop employability skills
Our work contributes to creating a strong economy and skills base within Somerset.
Please below for responses to questions 2, 5 & 7.
2 How are businesses planning for future skills needs that may result from changes in technology and processes, such as automation, robotics and artificial intelligence? Over what timescale?
Many businesses within Somerset contribute to ensuring today’s students are aware of the importance of STEM subjects to their future employment.
This may be through national initiatives such as STEM Ambassadors or Tomorrow’s Engineers or through the locally developed opportunities that we facilitate. This includes providing inspirational talks or hosting workplace visits. This case study from Numatic outlines how the company showcases the robotics on site to students.
This illustrates that businesses are investing time now to develop a workforce that will be available in future years. For example, Thatchers cider makers engagement begins at primary school and continues until young people enter the Thatchers Young Talent programme as apprentices, as outlined in this case study
5 How can local government, training providers, Chambers of Commerce and other partners at a local level work together to improve workplace training and development? Where are there examples of best practice? 1 Level 2 or below i.e. non-GSCE standard 2 Level 3 + apprenticeships, A-Levels, Degrees, BTECs, HNDs etc
Somerset benefits from several strong partnerships which contribute to skills development at several levels. Examples are as follows:
The Somerset Education Business Partnership team are employed by Somerset County Council but based at Somerset Chamber of Commerce. This enables us to engage effectively with both the education and business community to address future skills needs.
Skill Up Somerset is a partnership between local and national government and the Dorset and Somerset Training Provider network. It provides impartial advice on skill development directly to businesses and individuals. This has enabled businesses to access apprenticeships and individuals to develop new skills. Without this service these businesses and individuals would lack the knowledge required to deliver these outcomes.
Somerset County Council has worked in partnership with employers including Hinkley Point C and Skanska to support vulnerable young people into sustainable employment:
- Contractors at Hinkley Point C have successfully supported 6 young people with special educational needs through a supported traineeship programme. All 6 are now employed.
- Skanska have supported looked after children with workplace experiences and employability skills.
7 What changes in the existing education and skills system would better support business investment in workplace training?
At Somerset Education Business Partnership, we find that businesses and education partners are committed to developing future skills. However, both parties face constraints in the time and resource they can dedicate to facilitating this progress. For example, schools need to consider timetabling, teacher release and transport. Businesses need to balance operational and staff downtime against production demands.
Education Business Partnerships are uniquely placed to liaise with both parties and address these logistical challenges to deliver successful engagements. However, there is currently no core central government investment in the network of Education Business Partnerships. This results in varying service offers throughout the country depending on the strength of local partnerships. Baseline central government investment would enable the network to provide consistent support for businesses to engage in future skills development.
Somerset Education Business Partnership Manager