Education policy and industrial strategy needs to be better aligned at a local level, the Chair of education charity the Edge Foundation will say today (12 Nov), at an event at Liverpool Town Hall to launch its latest report on skills shortages.

The sixth report in the series summarises the devastating impact of skills shortages on the economy, estimated to be costing British businesses £4.4 billion a year.

The event, Skill Up North, will bring together local employers, educationalists and policy makers to discuss how best to ensure young people are equipped with the work place skills they need to fill the estimated 226,000 skills shortage vacancies across the UK.

The bulletin includes a focus on the construction industry with a survey conducted by the Federation of Master Builders finding that 56% of small business employer are struggling to hire carpenters / joiners; 54% can’t get the bricklayers they need; 46% can’t hire site managers.

Chair of the Edge Foundation, Neil Bates, commented:

‘Our latest skills shortages bulletin puts the situation in stark relief and the north is disproportionately affected. There are £1 billion worth of building projects in the pipeline in Liverpool, but as our report shows, employers are struggling to recruit people with the skills they need. Small and medium-sized construction companies train two thirds of all industry apprentices. Our discussion today is about how we can get schools and colleges collaborating with business to skill up young people so they take up these opportunities.’

Neil will share a platform with Mayor of the Liverpool Combined Authority, Steve Rotheram, who will give a keynote speech before a discussion led by a panel which includes Enda Carey, skills lead at the Studio Liverpool, Jean Duprez, consultant to the construction industry and champion for Women In Construction, Edge’s Director of Policy and Research, and author of the report, and Caitlin Sillitoe, a graduate apprentice from Aintree.

Steve Rotheram, who started his career as an apprentice bricklayer and ran his own construction company, commented:

‘The construction industry is a significant player in the growth and economy of the Liverpool City Region with a wealth of future projects coming on stream. This is an opportunity, but it means we need to recruit 18,000 people to meet the skills shortfall across skilled trades and higher and management skills.’

The Edge report highlights that over half of employers (60%) value broader skills such as problem solving, good communication abilities and team work and three quarters believe that academic and technical qualifications are equally valuable.

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Panel member Enda Carey, is digital skills lead at the Studio Liverpool which works with local employers to enable students to learn in the context of the ‘real world’. He commented:

‘The Studio uses a project-based learning curriculum that allows students to develop projects and hone critical sector skills like creativity and entrepreneurship. We know this approach works because our partners tell us that our students are well prepared for the world of work and can cope with the demands of the fast moving digital workforce.’

Skill Up North is a free event at Liverpool Town Hall with a drinks reception from 6pm; Steve Rotheram will give a keynote speech at 7pm followed by the panel discussion. All welcome.

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