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Employability and skills

15th September 2014

Are you employable? Do you have the right skills to get the job you want? These are just some of questions that more and more people are asking themselves. In this current climate it’s more important than ever to demonstrate your skills and stand out from the competition. But let’s look at it from the other side, what are employers and local authorities doing to ensure you are employable and have the right skills to fit these jobs.

Earlier this year Devon County Council (DCC) commissioned a ‘Workforce Skills Research Programme’ which has just released the ‘State of Skills in Devon’ annual report, this report identifies the challenges and issues businesses face in relation to skills within this region and start to look at ways in which these can be tackled.

Some key announcements have come out of this report from 2013/14. These include:
• Increased involvement of employers in the delivery of 16-19 vocational qualifications
• A streamlined funding system for adult skills
• Launch of Advanced Learning Loans for those aged 24+ to support Level 3 and 4 course fees

The report shows that more needs to be done to ensure that the skills young people have are retained in Devon. They want to work with businesses to highlight the potential of young people to businesses. One of Cosmic’s social aims is to help tackle youth unemployment. Since 1998 we have employed apprentices in one form or another and last year we took this further by employing 6 apprentices. During this process we had a first-hand experience of the difficulties businesses face when trying to recruit apprentices, one being the lack of cooperation from schools and colleges to support apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships give young people hands on experience of jobs they wish to pursue a career in, whilst developing invaluable skills such as work etiquette and key communication skills, yet there still seems to be stigma around them, maybe it’s that the understanding of apprenticeships is not clear or we just don’t promote them enough or maybe businesses are nervous about taking on someone with little or no experience, whatever the reason we need to address these issues now.

Recent figures have shown that 43% of employers expect a skills crisis within the next 12 months, around three-quarters of these employers said that recruiting young people would be ‘vital’ to help reduce this shortage. If businesses don’t start to offer young people opportunities the skills crisis will soon become reality.

If you are a business reading this, have you ever thought of taking on an apprentice? More information on apprenticeships can be found here

As I mentioned previously the ‘State of Skills in Devon’ annual report highlights the need to work closer with employers around the delivery of vocational qualifications for 16 – 19 year olds, standards for apprenticeships will be designed by employers, in the hopes that this will encourage employment of the younger generation.

So that’s apprenticeships, what about graduates? Exeter University is currently ranking in the top 10 University’s in the UK, as a result we are producing professionals with untapped potential, yet these young people don’t seem to be staying in the region.

DCC are supporting the University of Exeter’s efforts to increase the number of graduates staying the area. A campaign will be launched in the autumn looking to promote graduate career opportunities in the South West, the purpose of the campaign is to highlight graduate opportunities in the area and provide local labour market information. It is hoped that by raising awareness we can harness the potential of these graduates.

Although unemployment is slowly falling in the South West (jobless total in the region was down by 51,000 on the last quarter and the number of people in work has risen by 75,000 in the same period), there is a skills shortage and this can be easily tackled if businesses, educational institutes and local authorities work together on the issue. Unless employers do something now to harness this potential these young people will move away from the area and the skills maybe lost forever.