Opportunities for workforce development and skills - what does the future hold?
A blog by Lee Moore - Director of Business Development
As the country, indeed the whole world, grapples with the impact of Covid-19, education and skills have perhaps never been so important. The future health and fortunes of the economy will, to a large extent, be determined by the strength and pace of a skills led economic recovery that will inevitably require a workforce to up-skill and re-skill into new careers and into the new and emerging jobs of the future.
The new government initiative Lifetime Skills Guarantee, that was launched in April of this year, is testimony to the direction of travel that policy makers are now on in recognising the renewed importance of lifelong learning. This will offer tens of thousands of adults the opportunity to retrain later in life, helping them to gain in-demand skills that will open up new job opportunities.
The governments Industrial Strategy, combined with the regional and local economic growth plans flowing from the newly formed Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCA’s), is also presenting significant new opportunities for workforce development and skills, not least because each MCA has identified their own regional skills priorities and developed their own regional Skills Plans. These are supported by local FE colleges, employers and other training providers in meeting local skills needs.
For national Awarding Organisations that develop and award the regulated qualifications that are delivered to learners by colleges and other providers, there is a challenge to ensure that qualification development can meet the needs of employers in an ever changing and diverse workplace. Regulated qualifications can change lives; in fact, they can transform lives and communities through the opportunities and learning pathways for personal progression, further learning and entry into the world of work they create. As a national and international awarding organisation based in the West Midlands, Open College Network West Midlands is at the forefront of innovative new qualification development with our delivery partners, including on-line learning to help widen participation and increase opportunities. We see workforce development as an ongoing process of educating and empowering workers so that they can tackle the workplace problems of tomorrow.
As a nation there is growing realisation that GB PLC needs to improve productivity. Workers also need their employers to provide high quality on-the-job development and support. Quite simply, training your people to be more confident and skilled managers and operatives, will have a positive impact on your organisation’s productivity. The current drive on the new Apprenticeship Standards is certainly intended to improve work-based learning and to equip employees with the right knowledge, skills and behaviours for particular roles, and this is a good thing in terms of having a defined career pathway. Most jobs will have a particular skill set and focus linked to the role, but effective workforce development should also ensure that workers can acquire and develop transferable skills in the event that they need to change roles or even move into completely new industry sectors. What many people don’t always realise is that as we progress through the world of work we develop a great variety of skills; from management and communication, teamwork to project work, office skills to decision-making, IT, commercial awareness and negotiation. These are all essential to ensure the workforce is adaptable and responsive to the inevitable and ongoing change in the modern world of work.
Open College Network West Midlands is a national and international Awarding Organisation that has been developing skills solutions across industry sectors for over 35 years.
Director of Business Development
Open College Network West Midlands