HUNTINGDONSHIRE’S business community should know next month what needs to happen in firms, schools and colleges to address skills gaps and improve young people’s chances of finding good jobs.
The output from a ‘skills summit’ – a collaboration between local business organisations, Huntingdonshire District Council, Huntingdonshire Regional College and Urban and Civic, developers of the 1,400-acre Alconbury Airfield site that will include a new enterprise zone – is currently being analysed by the organisers.
Recommendations will be announced at the annual Huntingdonshire Business Fair, which takes place at Godmanchester’s Wood Green Animal Shelter on April 19, when delegates will also discuss how Huntingdonshire’s training needs fit with those of the wider Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership, whose area includes parts of several neighbouring counties.
Delegates at the summit in Huntingdon in March agreed to work collaboratively to understand the immediate skills needs of Huntingdonshire employers, as well as predicting what training would need to be provided to meet future needs.
They recognised the need to avoid having to react to skills shortages, in part by developing closer links between companies and business organisations and schools and colleges.
They also acknowledged the success of firms with a strong commitment to employee training and development.
But there were some more immediate wins, with some delegates finding unexpectedly that there training needs could be met by fellow delegates at the summit, Sue Bedlow, HDC’s economic development manager told The Hunts Post.
“Businesses present with existing training programmes were able to meet up with providers and public agencies and realised that there were sources of support and funding that they were not yet accessing or utilising,” she explained.
Tim Leathes, project director for Urban&Civic overseeing the delivery of the enterprise zone, added: “The event was a chance for businesses, training providers and public sector groups to come together and have a direct discussion about frustrations and challenges they face and to talk about ideas for working together. The priority was improving and building the right skills for the local economy.
“The delivery of the enterprise zone brings opportunities and focus to those local ambitions, and there is commitment that by working together we can build strong connections between young people and schools, training providers and businesses.
“Our aspiration is to see the maximisation of skills and training to fulfil the employment opportunities that the development of the enterprise zone will provide.”
U&C has promised to maximise the employment of local people in development of the airfield site, and is working with HRC on a programme to meet associated training needs.