The Essex Employment and Skills Board (ESB) held a successful event on 9th October 2014 at Anglia Ruskin University aimed at facilitating a dialogue between employers and educators. Entitled ‘Educating Essex Together’, the event included representatives from local employers, universities, schools and colleges. Chair of the ESB, Suzanne Jude of Raytheon updated attendees on the work of the Board and progress to date.
“We have made excellent progress since setting up as a full Board last year, with employer representatives from our growth sectors and representatives from education reaching out across Essex. We have developed programmes to respond to barriers identified and are informed by a comprehensive Skills Evidence Base which has just been refreshed. We recognise that there is still much to do and to achieve a world-class skills system for Essex will require input from us all.”
The programmes Suzanne outlined include the Digital Skills for Growth programme,supporting employers recruiting to purchase digital training, the extension of the Essex Education and Industry Programme, the scoping of an Essex Careers website and qualification development. ESB member leading on IT and technology, John Gladman (Oakley Mobile) gave an overview of some of the key messages coming through from employers, including the effects that poor image and perception is having across all sectors and the lack of appropriate qualifications in sectors such as Care and IT & Technology. ESB member Angela O’Donoghue (Principal of South Essex College and Chair of the Federation of Essex Colleges) outlined how colleges are already responding to information including ensuring recent rebuilds, course provision and training reflect the skills needed in the growth sectors.
Following presentations, delegates attended sector workshops. This enabled a more detailed discussion regarding some of the specific issues, such as nursing shortages for health and care, lack of coding skills in IT and technology and the importance of work experience for construction. The ESB discussed this feedback at their October meeting and reflected next steps back to attendees.