7 West Yorkshire colleges unite to battle skills gap

Colleges in West Yorkshire have joined forces to help businesses bridge the skills gap and develop stronger, more effective workforces.

Joanne Patrickson (WYCC Project Director), Ian Billyard (Chair of WYCC), Louise Tearle (WYCC Partnership Director) and Steph McGovern (Broadcaster) Taken at our conference in the summer when The Skills Service was announced to stakeholders.

The West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges works on behalf of seven West Yorkshire colleges to deliver a wide range of projects which are funded by the European Social Fund and aim to address skills shortages in the Leeds City Region.

Its new Skills Service acts as a gateway for businesses seeking to access training, taking them to seven of the region’s leading colleges and other partner training providers to give easy access to hundreds of courses listed in the online Skills Catalogue.

Plugging the skills gap is becoming increasingly important: recently it emerged that four in five SMEs in the north are finding it hard to attract the skilled workers they need.

Courtesy of Leeds City College

The Robert Half 2019 Salary Guide also revealed more than half of CEOs can’t find people with the right skills to take full advantage of today’s digitalised landscape, while more than half a million northern SMEs are said to be in the grip of a recruitment battle.

The West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges brings together the expertise of Kirklees, Bradford, Leeds, Calderdale, Wakefield, Shipley colleges, along with Leeds College of Building.

As well as creating a seamless link between the area’s businesses and colleges, their combined force has meant the group has been able to successfully access funding from the European Social Fund.

As a result, it can provide eligible businesses with 40 per cent funding and a free skills planning service to help significantly improve their prospects by improving employee skills through training.

According to WYCC Director Joanne Patrickson, the Skills Service has a unique role to play in bringing businesses and education together which could have a direct impact on sealing the skills gap.

“Often businesses are not entirely sure what they need in terms of training and support to help them fill skill gaps. Now they can access that easily and effectively.”

The Skills Service links to a wider network of training programmes and support means businesses can be guided to a host of solutions to drive up their skillset.

Meanwhile, the consortium has also enabled the colleges involved to unite to raise awareness of a range of issues, including under-funding.

Joanne added: “Under-funding is a major issue for colleges as highlighted by this week’s Love Our Colleges campaign. By creating a collaborative landscape we are able to work together to ensure colleges are well-placed to seize opportunities and share best practice.”

Find out more at www.skillsservice.co.uk