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Colleges Week SME Leader Survey text

News

Small Businesses Call for Urgent Action on Skills

 
At Bath College we were not surprised to hear small business leaders calling for urgent action on skills. We work with hundreds of businesses, large and small across Bath and North East Somerset and the wider West of England region and we understand the challenges they face.

 
Carole StottThis recent national survey of small business leaders conducted by Opinum reveals that more than half (53%) say that COVID-19 is now their key concern. More than two in five (44%) say that the skills gap in their sector is likely to increase because of threats such as COVID-19, and 54% believe that they are going to need to train their workforce to adapt to the opportunities and threats thrown up by the virus. 45% believe that it will become even more difficult to hire people with the right skills once the Brexit transition period has ended, and that the country’s skills gap will only get worse (44%). Seven out of ten businesses surveyed believe in the importance of colleges to tackle this.

 
Developing the skills of their present workforce and providing young people and adult career changers with the skills and talents that will help businesses to be more productive and succeed, is what we do. With more investment we can do more and alongside business organisations we are calling on government to invest and create a more flexible and agile skills system that helps us to be even more responsive to local business needs.

 
If you live in BANES then Bath is your college. We stand ready to do all we can to support our community: young people, adults, businesses, to gain the skills and talents they will need to succeed and thrive. Contact us if you think we could help you or your business. This week Bath College and colleges throughout England celebrate Colleges Week. If you agree that colleges and skills need more investment and support then write to your MP or take to social media using #LoveOurColleges #CollegesWeek

 
– Carole Stott
Chair of Governors, Bath College
 
 

SME LEADERS FEAR NOT ENOUGH IS BEING DONE TO HELP THEM PREPARE THEIR WORKFORCE FOR THE END OF THE BREXIT TRANSITION PERIOD

 

  • SMALL BUSINESS LEADERS CALL FOR URGENT ACTION ON SKILLED WORKFORCE
  • AS THE END OF THE BREXIT TRANSITION PERIOD LOOMS, SMEs BELIEVE NOT ENOUGH IS BEING DONE TO MAKE SURE THEY HAVE THE SKILLED WORKFORCE THEY NEED
  • OVER HALF OF SMEs STATE, THEY WILL NEED TO RETRAIN THEIR WORKFORCE TO SURVIVE
  • MAJORITY SAY GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO PRIORITISE SKILLS BUT NOT ENOUGH IS BEING DONE TO HELP
  • BRITISH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND INSTITUTE OF DIRECTORS STRESS THAN SKILLS WILL BE VITAL SO NEED TO BE PRIORITISED

 

Association of Colleges (AoC) has published its latest bi-annual research showing the majority (68%) of SMEs say that if their business is going to “survive and thrive” then skills must be a top priority for the government.
 

Despite recent high-profile skills speeches and announcements, almost 40% of SME decision-makers say that it is more difficult now than it was five years ago to find employees with the right skills, and 53% still do not think that enough is being done to help them skill and reskill their workforce as we get closer to the end of the Brexit transition period.
 

Almost one in two (45%) believe that it will become even more difficult to hire people with the right skills once the Brexit transition period has ended, and that the country’s skills gap will only get worse (44%).
 

The national survey of SME leaders – conducted by Opinum – also shows that the impact of Brexit is no longer the biggest worry for businesses – more than half (53%) saying that COVID-19 is now their key concern. More than two in five (44%) say that the skills gap in their sector is likely to increase because of threats such as COVID-19, and 54% believe that they are going to need to train their workforce to adapt to the opportunities and threats thrown up by the virus.
 

The study, released to mark Colleges Week (19 – 23 October), shows that seven in 10 (71%) believe colleges are important to business for training and retraining staff. As a business, 39% say they would look to train, retrain or upskill their employees through colleges, compared to 21% who would turn to a university or 13% online courses. A further 44% believe colleges are best placed to skill their future workforce, compared to universities (22%) and schools (21%).
 

Further evidence of the importance of colleges to the UK’s future workforce shows around six in 10 (59%) say that it is important that their business has staff with Level 3 qualifications, all of which can be gained at college.
 

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges said:
 

“The economic recovery has to be skills-led if we are to support businesses and people through this pandemic. It is only through training and retraining that we will be able to make sure that people have the skills they need to keep their jobs and to apply for new ones, and that businesses have the employees they need. Both will allow the country to grow back better.
 

Skills gaps did not emerge in this pandemic, they are long standing challenges which have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and the UK nearing the end of the Brexit transition period. Government has rightly expressed its commitment to prioritising skills, but now we need the investment to flow quickly to the right people and places. People and businesses need skills and training as an urgent priority if they are going to survive the coming months, and thrive in the coming years.
 

Colleges in every part of the country provide first-rate education and skills, working on average with more than 750 businesses in their local community, skilling, and reskilling business staff, helping them to overcome the problems of today and prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. Colleges already do so much to support business and they stand ready to do so much more.”
 

Joe Fitzsimons, Senior Policy Advisor, Institute of Directors said:

“Skills are fundamental to business, and the coronavirus outbreak has only made this clearer. However, the pandemic has also put further pressure on a training system that was already in need of an upgrade. For many firms, with uncertain cashflow, it’s proving challenging to invest further in training staff. Business leaders are ready to work with the education sector and government to ensure we can address crucial skills gaps in the months and years ahead, and the UK’s colleges will undoubtedly be a key piece of the puzzle.”
 

British Chambers of Commerce, Head of People Policy, Jane Gratton said:
 

“To remain competitive in a global business environment, employers will need to invest in upskilling and reskilling people at all levels in the workforce. Business communities will want to see greater priority from the government on further education, digital and technical skills and creating a skills system that is more agile and responsive to their training needs. Colleges are key to boosting skills levels in local business communities across the country.”
 

Carole Stott and Wera Hobhouse

News

Bath College gets support from local MP for increased funding

 

Bath College joined colleges from across the country this week for the Association of Colleges #LoveOurColleges campaign to showcase the critical value of the work it does and make the case for increased investment from government.
 
Bath College’s Chair of Governors, Carole Stott MBE, met local MP, Wera Hobhouse, at the House of Commons to explain the urgent need for more investment.
 
It is now widely recognised that Further Education Colleges like Bath have been unfairly and dramatically disadvantaged by funding cuts. In the eight years since 2011 annual funding for each young student has dropped by over £1,300, whilst education and training opportunities for adults have dropped by 62%. The Children’s Commissioner, the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Education Select Committee have all highlighted the issue.
 
Local MP Wera Hobhouse is supporting the call for better investment and has signed a cross-party early day motion calling on the Chancellor for improved investment.
 
She said: “Bath College demonstrates time and time again that young people don’t have to go to university to advance in their lives. Bath’s businesses need young people who are work ready, with specific skills, and Bath College provides this. Young people also need to know that their education will stand them in good stead for progressing in to the world of work.
 
“Bath College do a fantastic job in the face of a very difficult funding environment. I would like to see people given a lifelong learning account, which they can spend at any point in their lives on educating themselves, at institutions like Bath College.”
 
Carole Stott said, “Failure to invest in our college is a failure to invest in our young people and our future.
“Bath College plays a vitally important role in our community. It educates and trains over 2000 young people and 9000 adults each year, leading to successful careers and to jobs so important to our local economy.
 
“We train the engineers, the construction workers, the care workers and the chefs that our society and our community need. We work with hundreds of local businesses providing the skilled workforce they need to thrive.”
 
Despite the funding cuts the college was recognised as Good in all areas by Ofsted earlier this year. They described Bath College learners as developing a “strong range of skills, attributes and ways of behaving which prepare them well for employment.”
 
While “Learners with low confidence or few previous qualifications quickly feel at ease and establish excellent relationships with their teachers. As a result, they swiftly develop new skills in learning, and personal and social skills.”

 
Sarah Kean-Price, the UCU union rep at Bath College said that: “#LoveOurColleges raises a crucial issue in FE – the choice to engage in austerity continues to slash our budget: leaving us overlooked, underfunded and less able to support our community to learn, develop and flourish.

 

“There is an imperative need to challenge the government to fund FE properly for the betterment of all.”
 

Amanda Spielman , Ofsted Chief Inspector commented that: “While it is true to say that spending per pupil in primary and secondary schools has increased significantly in real terms since the early 1990s, the same is not true for further education and skills (FES) spending.
 
“I have expressed my concerns before, based on our inspection evidence, that the real-term cuts to FES funding are affecting the sustainability and quality of FES provision. My strong view is that the government should use the forthcoming spending review to increase the base rate for 16 to 18 funding.”
 
Carole Stott said, “We always put the success and well-being of our students first but recently the college has been operating at a loss which means we’ve had to make severe cuts and have not been able to offer pay increases for our hard-working and dedicated staff. We need to be able to recruit the best staff, and with increased pension costs just around the corner this position is not sustainable.
 
“With skills shortages looming the government must invest in our colleges and our future.”

 
If you would like to show your support and sign the petition, please do so by clicking here.
 

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