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Profiting through skills

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We know from talking to businesses throughout the county that recruiting staff with the right skillsets can be difficult. And it’s a problem that is likely to get worse.

By 2021, Cumbrian businesses will need to replace 65,000 people who have retired, and recruit another 13,800 to fill new positions. Brexit could make it harder to fill those jobs with migrant workers.

So, upskilling new and existing staff will become vital if business is to thrive. That’s why Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has joined forces with the county’s four further education colleges and other training providers such as Gen2, Newton Rigg, the University of Cumbria and SP Training, on an £8.5m skills project to train the workforce of tomorrow.

The project, which runs until March 2018, is being funded by the European Social Fund via the Skills Funding Agency.

The Chamber’s specialist business advisers will help identify your needs and match you with a training provider to meet your requirements. We can offer businesses with up to 250 employees free staff training to grow and develop, improve skills and take on apprentices.

Jon Power, the Chamber’s Workforce Development Services Manager, said: “Our brokerage service is completely independent and impartial, and matches employers with the training provider best equipped to meet their needs.”

“This is probably the most important skills project we’ve seen for some time in this county. When Cumbria Chamber delivers this support, engaging with 3,000 businesses, the county will have an evidence-based skills audit of a sort never seen before. It will ensure that the skill needs of the county will be recorded and the activities to support them will be in place to take Cumbria forward.”

Chamber Chief Executive Rob Johnston added: “This is probably the most important skills project we’ve seen for some time in this county. When Cumbria Chamber delivers this support, engaging with 3,000 businesses, the county will have an evidence-based skills audit of a sort never seen before. It will ensure that the skill needs of the county will be recorded and the activities to support them will be in place to take Cumbria forward.”

CASE STUDY: MARTYN INDUSTRIALS

Martyn Industrials turned to Cumbria Chamber of Commerce’s new apprenticeship brokerage service when attempts to recruit by conventional routes came to nothing. The business at Durranhill Industrial Estate, Carlisle, supplies flooring and interiors for buses, coaches, ambulances and minibuses.

Managing Director Gordon Keen said: “We’d just invested in a £250,000 CNC cutting machine and decided we would take someone else on.

“We advertised in the paper and through the JobCentre but unfortunately none of the people who responded had the skills we required. It wasn’t just a warehousing role. It involved running machinery, CAD and adding value.

“We wanted somebody who wasn’t imbued with bad habits and thought that an apprentice might be the way to go, someone we could train and mould.
But we weren’t sure how to go about it so contacted the Chamber of Commerce. Jon Power, the workforce development services manager there, put us in touch with [training provider] Gen2.

“They interviewed us to find out what we needed and found three people who might be suitable. We interviewed two and took one on.”

The new apprentice is Kile Cairns, 18, who lives in Harraby, Carlisle, just a few hundred yards from Martyn Industrials’ premises. After leaving school, he had worked as a labourer for a building firm, alongside his father who is a joiner.

He started at Martyn Industrials at the beginning of February on a one-year apprenticeship in warehousing and logistics, combining on-the-job experience with day release at Gen2.

Gen2’s tuition will cover employment rights and responsibilities, personnel learning, thinking skills and help to improve his maths and English. Martyn Industrials had used Gen2 previously as a training provider, and was more than happy to deal with the organisation again.

Gordon said: “We have seven staff now including Kile but had never recruited an apprentice before.

There wasn’t anything about the process that wasn’t straightforward and Gen2 plan the training for us.

”Because Martyn Industrials has fewer than 50 employees and hasn’t recruited an apprentice in the last 12 months – Kile is its first – the company is eligible for a £1,500 grant towards his wage costs.

Gordon added: “It’s early days but as long as we get what we want, and Kile gets what he needs, then it should work well. We’d consider it again.

“Beeby Bell, quality and compliance manager at Gen2, explained how the brokerage system works. Once the Chamber referred Martyn Industrials’ enquiry, Gen2 swung into action.

He said: “We aptitude test and interview a bank of learners and then match them to clients’ needs when enquiries come in. If we don’t have anybody suitable on our books, we advertise locally on social media to find someone.”

To find out more about the Chamber’s apprenticeship brokerage service, contact Jon Power on 0845 226 00 40 or email jon@cumbriachamber.co.uk

© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce

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