Plan to let business loan staff like clubs loan players to address Yorkshire skills gap

Loaning out players to other clubs is commonplace in the football world to help develop sporting skills.

Call to address skills gap

However one business leader thinks this model can be deployed in the business world to help workers gain new abilities and experience from doing the same thing but with other companies.

The Northern Talent Exchange is designed to give business the chance to loan their staff to other companies in a manner akin to that employed by professional sports clubs to allow them to accrue new skills, experiences and techniques.

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With skill shortages frequently cited as one of the central issues facing Northern businesses both large and small, and the cost of education and training so high, former lawyer and learning development manager Catherine Boddington believes her programme can begin build bridges between companies to help address these issues and develop a workforce fit for the future.

Catherine Boddington 9th July 2019. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Ms Boddington has had an extensive career with the likes of Eversheds, Clifford Chance and Sky Betting & Gaming and has already attracted interest from some of the region’s Blue Chip firms into her idea to get organisations to collaborate the upskill staff.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post she said: “I want to build great options for careers in this city and the region.

“Now it costs so much to qualify and do a degree, and you have all of that debt.

Derby County's Pride Park Stadium.

“If you then decide that you want to try something else and throw away all of that learning then it is a big decision to make.

“So hopefully this programme helps people make a better informed decisions about the longer careers we are all going to have to work.”

During her time with Clifford Chance she worked for the firm’s global academy and spent time all over the world training staff in leadership, management and business skills.

Catherine Boddington 9th July 2019. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Concerned with what lengthier careers and the rise of automation can mean for the North’s workforce, she turned to the world of professional sports for inspiration.

“One of the places I looked at was football and how all of the clubs loan their players out top each other.

“It benefits the clubs as it gets their players off of the bench and playing.

“It is a more active and flexible resource but also, if a player goes off on loan and getting a bit of stretch, then they can return to their club with a deeper skills set.”

Interest has already been expressed from the likes of Channel 4, Sky Betting & Gaming, Nexus and bjss, and Ms Boddington is currently holding events around the North to pitch her idea.

A pilot is lined up for September and she believes more firms will come on board.

“While some businesses do loan out to other firms on secondments, there is no actual way on a regional basis that our business can ever think of doing that.

“What I haven’t seen is a large scale model, it is more about arrangements between one or two organisations.”

Ms Boddington believes that the North is the best place to begin rolling out the process and that the loan system can help unlock some of the region’s untapped potential.

She said: “We needs to start looking at what are the issues facing the region, who are the best brains in the region and how do we start looking at how we can collaborate so we can stretch and benefit from the rising tide of skills development in the region.

“If you are investing back and working with business from all around, everybody is in it together and we are stronger.”