Hosted by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, the businesses met Elena Magrini, a senior analyst at the Centre for Cities and a commissioner for the Workplace Training & Development Commission, which has been set up by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the national business body.
The Commission has been gathering evidence for a number of months and will be issuing an interim report in the spring into how the UK can better support workers from the age of 25 and upwards. The final report will provide the basis for the BCC and accredited chambers such as Suffolk Chamber to lobby the Government for changes to be made.
Paul Simon, Suffolk Chamber’s head of communications & campaigns said: “In many respects, the country’s approach to the training and retraining of existing staff is fragmented, confusing and very short-term. Yet the challenges and opportunities presented by Artificial Intelligence, climate change and new working practices means that “developing your own” staff is the only sustainable approach open to individual businesses and the economy as a whole.”
The roundtable event identified a range of challenges facing companies, including difficulties in navigating the skills system, the reluctance of some staff to retrain to due to work and domestic time pressures and concerns about staff leaving for new jobs once they receive training investment.
Many businesses also felt that there was too much focus on formal qualifications and not enough on developing the right attitudes among staff and their willingness to learn and adapt.
Participants had a clear list of what they want from the Government to improve workplace training and development. These include reducing the constant changes in the education system, establishing a single source of advice and support for businesses to turn to and increased capital investment, as well as revenue expenditure in boosting training facilities, including new technologies.
The businesses present also wanted a better mix of classroom and on the job training in bite-sized chunks, and a more joined up approach between businesses and skills providers.
Elena Magrini added: “Rapid changes in the world of work mean that training and workplace development are now more important than ever.
“It was inspiring to hear what the business community is already doing in Suffolk to prepare for the future of work and the many ideas that came out of the discussion will feed into the Commission’s report.”