The research has been commissioned as part of the Skills Support for the Workforce Programme which Serco’s Employment, Skills & Enterprise business manage in Dorset and which is co-financed by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and the European Social Fund. The ESFA commissioned Serco to conduct research to understand employers’ skills needs in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire as part of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) skills planning.
The findings of the research provides information for training providers and others working in the skills environment to consider as part of their future planning for skills delivery in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire in order that it meet current employer needs.
The report concludes that in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire a number of businesses face skills gaps and/or shortages, which tend to be very sector specific in nature hence meaning that the training needs arising are varied in nature. Some of these skills issues are caused by a fundamental problem with supply and others are caused by competition from other better paid or higher-profile industries.
The specific digital skills lacking commonly concern programming languages and coding skills; digital marketing or web design skills; and Microsoft Office. The fact that some SMEs outsource IT work may impact on the relatively limited extent to which some IT skills seem to be causing issues for businesses.
For a small number of businesses, the digital skills gaps that exist are having a negative impact and evidently inhibiting growth. Businesses are nevertheless doing what they can to address the skills gaps that exist, which commonly involves training, but this also impacts on business as it takes up precious time and resource.
Those facing current skills gaps or shortages were more likely to have a training plan and a skills analysis of the workforce already and were also more likely to have undertaken training or development in the last 12 months. This suggests that action is commonly being taken in response to skills issues.
The evidence suggests that business owners are generally proactive in seeking training or development options. They are also prepared to invest in the upskilling of their workforce and tend to know exactly where to go to access the training required.
Rob Matts, Head of Skills Support for the Workforce said “this is a very important piece of research that we are pleased to have been able to deliver for the LEP on behalf of the ESFA. The findings provide first-hand insights from employers that can guide the skills sector in order it meet the training needs of the diverse business community in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. I would like to personally thank the businesses, training providers and stakeholders that have taken time to contribute to this important piece of work.