A major campaign to address the UK's skills shortages, falling productivity, and the changing nature of the workplace has been launched by the British Chambers of Commerce.
In Swindon and Wiltshire, the three-pronged initiative will be delivered by Business West and Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Launching immediately, a new policy-led Workplace Training and Development Commission will create a strategy to make the skills system work better for business. It will focus on:
Opportunities to support and incentivise businesses in training, up-skilling and re-skilling
Developing the adult workforce already in work
Practical and pragmatic recommendations for policy development, spanning the next 10 to 15 years
Commissioners will be high profile, influential thinkers and leaders in their field and in the skills arena.
Launching in February 2020, Business Showcase Days will open the doors of Chambers and businesses to their local communities, providing a chance for people to see first-hand the range of different career paths on offer in local businesses, to foster relationships between businesses and school and college leavers.
The third phase of the campaign will be to support business in the recruitment and retention of a skilled and diverse workforce.
Research by the British Chambers of Commerce suggests there has been a 39 percent increase in the number of employees requesting flexible working arrangements compared to two years ago.
The flexible working initiative _ which will be launched in 2020 – will provide firms with the guidance and resources to create modern, flexible working environments for all employees.
The focus is to enable firms to recruit from a wider talent pool and retain workers who might otherwise leave the business by helping firms establish their own flexible working policies.
Phil Smith, managing director of Business West, said: “At the heart of every great business is great people. Finding, retaining and training talent is a core issue for firms of all sizes and sectors.
"Chambers understand how important it is for businesses to have access to a flexible and skilled talent pool, so getting the training and development system right in this country is absolutely crucial.
“The Chamber Network is made up of a diverse and innovative collection of local businesses, and there are so many great career opportunities in the West of England.
"This campaign is all about bringing together business, government and employees to ensure local and national economies are attractive and productive places to work.”
And Tim Major, account manager at the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce with responsibility for Swindon said: “Our long-standing relationship with academic establishments, our Young Chamber members, and businesses has been a core strength of the Chamber’s for many years.
"It has allowed us to establish working groups across our membership tiers to help address individual needs that included us creating our popular Education, Employment and Skills Forums.
“Over the next 12 months we will be concentrating on sector challenges and giving education establishments a platform to share their point of view on collaboration and government initiatives.”