The skills mix drives productivity and growth

AS WE look to re-invent and grow the North-east economy by diversifying our business base, ensuring that our current and future workforce has the right skills, ambitions and motivations will be central to our success.

Currently 24% of Chamber members report that they are experiencing a skills gap today, unable to attract the quality, quantity and calibre of staff they need to drive growth.

With Skills Development Scotland estimating that organisations in this region will need an additional 120,000 staff - many of them with a high level of qualifications - by 2022 (yes, that is only six years away) to meet potential demand, then there is clearly work to do.

This isn’t just about technical skills, although that is vitally important.

It’s having the right approach to communication, teamwork, innovation and enterprise culture that can create a point of difference for individuals, improve the performance of the businesses they work in and provide Aberdeen city and shire with a competitive advantage.

We are fortunate here in having two of the foremost universities in the UK alongside North East Scotland College who between them provide a rich, varied and meaningful educational experience.

To complement growing our own, we must make sure that the messaging we send out is geared to attracting the talent and skills we need from outside the region by communicating just what a great place this is to study, work and build a career as well as offering an unrivalled quality of life.

The Chamber’s 2016 Holyrood election manifesto called for the new government to improve the work-readiness of young people by training teachers to have a better understanding of business.

Also to recognise companies that invest in training their workforce by providing incentives for doing so.

And to re-visit the rules on post-study work visas for international students in sectors where we have skills shortages.

Businesses need to think about skills investment as being an activity to drive productivity and growth, not just an expendable cost line when times get tough.

They need to empower staff to think differently, challenge norms, collaborate, innovate and provide the levels of service excellence that will create the USPs that will set them apart.

At the Chamber, we want the region to be ready, willing and able to compete.

We are the host organisation for the Developing Young Workforce North East Scotland initiative and are passionate about equipping our next generation with the technical and workplace skills to enable them to play their part in writing the next chapter of the North-east business success story. We aim to do this by getting 100% of schools into meaningful partnerships with employers.

We are working with regional partners to ensure that the Transition Training Fund is meaningful, accessible and helps people to retrain and realise their transferrable skills.

In the last two years, over 3,500 people have taken part in our wide-ranging training programme.

At any one time we have around 100 candidates studying towards an MA or NVQ and we were recently accredited to provide qualifications in health & social care.

Finally, we have protected our own training budgets to walk the talk and make sure your Chamber team is the best it can be.