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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.”
 

Announcement, News

Proposal for city centre innovation centre on Bath College campus gets £300k boost

I-START is a collaboration between Bath College, the University of Bath, Bath Spa University, Bath & North East Somerset Council and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA)

 

I-START is designed to help local people to gain new skills and re-train for roles in the creative and digital sectors. It also aims to provide a more flexible approach to learning which will fit around people’s busy lives, making it more accessible to those without traditional qualifications. This would help more people from diverse social and educational backgrounds gain new skills, leading to high quality jobs in the creative and digital sectors.
 
The plan is to create an innovation centre – believed to be the first of its kind in the UK – on Bath College’s City Centre campus. As well as training, the innovation centre will also work with businesses, helping them develop new ideas.
 
The West of England Combined Authority approved the outline business case and agreed to invest £300,000 to develop and design the project further. This will including a review of the plans in light of Covid-19.
 
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “I am keen to ensure that all our residents, whatever their background or challenges, can realise their potential by gaining the digital skills our region needs in future.
 
“This focus on future digital skills is now more important than ever as we look at our region’s economic renewal, coming out of Covid-19. By offering people more training opportunities that will help them to develop the right skills that our region’s businesses need, we can give them the best possible chances to re-train and up-skill in their chosen careers.”
 
The I-START project involves a ground-breaking collaboration between the college, the University of Bath, Bath Spa University, Bath & North East Somerset Council and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).
 
Councillor Tim Ball, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s cabinet member for Housing, Planning and Economic Development, said: “Now we are in the recovery phase of COVID-19, giving people the right skills to meet the demands of the future will be key to the economic recovery of Bath and North East Somerset as a whole. I’m pleased that the I-START project will take an inclusive approach to opening up further and higher education to more people in our region.”
 
I-START’s learning space would be co-located with innovative start-up businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises (via the SETsquared University of Bath Innovation Centre), the Institute of Coding and research & knowledge exchange – spanning the digital and creative economy, robotics, social science and the arts – leading to collaboration between partners, students and businesses.
 
The proposed training centre would be based next to Bath Quays, with its excellent links across the region; giving students access to growing businesses looking to expand their workforces. By 2027, it is expected that 55% of UK jobs will require higher level qualifications.
 
Professor Ian White, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath, said: “We are delighted that the I-START Outline Business Case has been approved, and look forward to working with WECA and our project partners to continue to develop our plans. I’d like to thank all those involved for their hard work in getting the project to this stage.
 
“What we’re jointly proposing is a genuinely exciting prospect for our city, expanding the University’s world-leading SETsquared Bath Innovation Centre, improving access to our research and expertise in areas of value to the City, creating Bath’s first digital labs to accommodate new and growing businesses, and building on our experience as educational providers to enhance the future prospects of the City as a location for inward investment.
 
“Not only is this a project exactly what the city will need as we look to bounce back from the economic impacts of Covid19, but it will benefit our city for years to come.”
 
Principal and Chief Executive of Bath College, Laurel Penrose, said: “We are delighted to be part of such a great partnership. At Bath College we are always striving to identify and address the needs of local people and employers.
 
We look forward to the development of the innovation centre at our City Centre Campus and welcoming a whole new cohort of students.”
 
Professor Andy Salmon, Pro Vice Chancellor External, Bath Spa University on behalf of Vice Chancellor Sue Rigby, said: “It is fitting that this exciting inclusive growth project is the first time that the four essential Bath partners have combined their national and international leading strengths in skills, innovation, and business start up. The revolutionary part of this programme is its ability to make ambitious and necessary connections across disciplines and business opportunities at the very moment when our skills and core purposes are undergoing radical shift. This project gives us the opportunity for the city and region to move forward rapidly harnessing the formidable capacity of one great College and two excellently complimentary Universities.”
 
I-START will help meet the objectives set out in the West of England Local Industrial Strategy and Employment and Skills Plan.
 

News

Exam success for dedicated Adult Community Learning Student

 

When Sandie, shown here second from left with some of her ACL classmates,  came for an initial assessment of her English skills in April 2017 her confidence was quite low. She joined an ACL group but didn’t manage to stay – life got in the way

 

However, she didn’t give up, and neither did the ACL team. Sandie was encouraged to join a new English group in September, and she flourished.  ACL offer Ascentis Certificates in English and Maths;  the qualification is broken down into small achievable Awards,  6 in total for English, learners take the qualification when they feel ready for it and their confidence grows with each assessment they pass.

 

Sandie passed the full Level 2 English Certificate ; the next step was Functional Skills. This is a bigger challenge for many adult learners, the exams are more formal, and bring back negative memories of school. Sandie was worried about failure and was adamant that she would start on Level 1. However, within a few weeks she agreed to move up to Level 2.

 

Sandie, along with the rest of her group, worked incredibly hard to get to grips with the unfamiliar terminology and exam strategies required for Functional Skills. One of her biggest fears was giving a presentation, but with a supportive group of learners around her, she succeeded. Her writing skills developed and she began to understand what was required to pass the reading exam.  The result? Sandie has achieved the highest mark in Level 2 writing in the entire college: 28/30. If ever we needed evidence of how important self-confidence and a supportive atmosphere is to learning, we only have to look to Sandie.

 

 

Bath College Adult Community Learning provides a wide range of courses intended for those who want to improve their chances to find work, support their families or live independently. The Adult Community Learning courses are a fantastic way to build your confidence, and you can make some great friends, find a supportive community and learn new skills along the way. There is such a vast range of courses, from short courses in confidence building, computer skills or CV workshops; to Community Love2Learn Vocational courses, aimed at providing a foundation for a career change, such as Bricklaying, Plastering and Stonemasonry.  They are also free, provided you are eligible. You can find out more about Bath College’s Adult Community Learning provision by clicking here. You can sign up to receive the Adult Community learning monthly newsletter, which contains the details of new courses, by clicking here.

 

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