Here, in the first of a new blog series, Mel Colton-Dyer from the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce explains why skills are so important to future-proofing the Cornish economy and what the Chamber is doing to assist.

Mel Colton-DyerIn January The British Chambers of Commerce published its Quarterly Economic Survey – the UK’s largest and most authoritative private-sector business survey, based on the responses of over 7,000 businesses.

The findings of the survey indicate that skills shortages are reaching critical levels. Of the UK service sector firms hiring, the percentage of firms reporting recruitment difficulties rose to 71%, the highest since records began in 1989.

In Cornwall, during the last quarter of 2016 36% of businesses had difficulty in recruiting – this has risen to 54% for the last quarter of 2017. So, it is clear that in order to thrive businesses need to re-invest in the skills of their existing team and become more open to a diverse workforce and flexible working patterns.

So, what is the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce doing to help Cornwall upskill?

  • We have been working with local schools, colleges and universities to help business engage with their future workforce and continue to do so. We also work closely with the Enterprise Advisor programme, Apprenticeship and vocational training providers and CIoS LEP skills teams to ensure that curriculum matches the needs of employers.
  • The Chamber also has a skills sub-group of our membership council who are working with providers and businesses to inform and transform the skills landscape in Cornwall, from primary school up. Please speak to them and tell them if you have any concerns.
  • As the delivery partner of the Skills Hub, we are encouraging businesses to contact one of the project’s experienced Skills Connectors who are able to provide advice, create a bespoke action plan and supply a free Skills Toolkit so that you can take control of your own skills needs.

The old adage is that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ – I think the Cornish business adage should be ‘bring on the skills, we’re never too old to learn, directly!’.

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Written by: Mel Colton-Dyer
Mel is Chief Operating Officer of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, delivery partner of the Skills Hub.