We need skilled young people who’ll keep our city thriving

Thursday, February 4, 2016

BRISTOL is thriving. The city is home to some of the most innovative and creative companies in the world. Bristolians are at the forefront of wing design, making safer and lighter aeroplanes for the hugely growing commercial aviation market.

We count some of the brightest technical minds among our number, inventing robot hands for amputees, hi-tech systems to help the elderly live independently for longer, and what will soon be the world’s fastest supersonic car.

There are a number of opportunities opening up for students in higher skills in a very buoyant regional economy.

UWE Bristol Pro Vice-chancellor, Jo Midgley

Bristol is the only city outside of London which actually contributes more in taxes than it takes back in public funding. It is undoubtedly a brilliant place to live and work.

But the city faces a skills shortage. Bristol needs young people to learn the skills in demand from businesses. It needs engineers, housebuilders, healthcare workers and much more.

Without these skills the city’s prosperity will not continue.

That is why today the Bristol Post has teamed up with partners in industry and education to launch our Skills for Life campaign.

I am most grateful to the Post for their Skills for Life campaign which perfectly supports our Learning City initiative

Bristol Mayor, George Ferguson

During this five-month online and print campaign, we will showcase talented young people and inspirational role models, and we will showcase the schools, colleges, universities and businesses to highlight job and training opportunities the city offers.

Skills for Life will cumulate with a major skills show held at UWE Exhibition Centre in June, which will bring together young people and employers make sure these young people have the opportunity to find the right career for them.

Editor Mike Norton said: “The Post has a great track record of helping young people find work. We have connected hundreds of young people with businesses through other campaigns, and this is the latest in our drive to give young people a chance in the workplace. I am sure it will be a great success.”

Sarah Pullen, managing director of Local World Bristol, publisher of the Post, added: “Bristol and the South West has a thriving economy and we want to make sure that our young people are in the best position to make the most out of all the opportunities the region has to offer. The Bristol Post is proud to support the next generation of employees who will go on to shape the region with their talent and skills.”

The campaign was created in response to increased local demand for highly skilled employees and a national forecast which warns of an upcoming skills shortage in the future UK workforce.

Good quality jobs are vital for Bristol’s future, so I’ll do everything I can to support businesses and colleges working together

Labour’s mayoral candidate Marvin Rees

Director of skills for the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, Adam Powell, said it was vital to tell young people about the range of options open to them.

“The more opportunities to experience different job roles in different industries, the better informed individuals’ career choices will be,” he said. “Job opportunities are forecast to grow significantly in the West of England over the next decade, as is the need for appropriately trained technicians and skilled professionals. The West of England’s colleges are providing young people with amongst the best preparation for work in the country, whilst our universities secure some of the best employment outcomes for graduates of any city region. This, coupled with the current growth of apprenticeships at all levels, now is a great time to consider how to develop the skills most highly sought by employers in the West of England.”

A number of employers and education providers across the region are already partners in this campaign, including Weston College, housebuilder Taylor Wimpey, the University of the West of England (UWE) and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership.

Pro Vice-chancellor at UWE Bristol, Jo Midgley, said: “[There are] a number ofopportunities opening up for students in higher skills in a very buoyant regional economy.

“The region’s aerospace orderbooks, transport infrastructure, construction, low carbon industries and resurgent nuclear industry mean those interested in engineering in particular are well in demand. Nationally the Perkins Report identified a skills gap of some 800,000 places requiring science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM subjects) before 2020 with many thousands of those required in this region according to Engineering UK. Furthermore, as we have heard much about already this year, an ageing population is putting more pressures on the National Health Service with the Government announcing the creation of another 10,000 new training places for nursing in this Parliament. Elsewhere the creative industries and health sector are also crying out for skills with film directors due to descend on the city later this year for the annual Wildscreen and Encounters film festivals looking for new talent. Biggest of all, the skill needs of the region’s professional, financial and management sector that dominates Bristol has led to the University of the West of England investing heavily in training for law and business with a £55m new building to be completed at the end of this year.”

The campaign has backing across the political spectrum.

Bristol Mayor George Ferguson said: “I am most grateful to the Post for their Skills for Life campaign which perfectly supports our Learning City initiative, and with 2016 a sour Year of Learning it is well timed. This stage in a young person’s development is key for learning the skills they will need in the world of work. Recognising achievement and hard work is important if we are to give children the inspiration and drive that they need to succeed after they leave education. I’m certain that this campaign will uncover great work in our schools and some remarkably bright and determined young people. I much look forward to seeing the results of the Skills for Life campaign and hope that it inspires young people from all areas and backgrounds.”

And Labour’s mayoral candidate Marvin Rees added: “Good quality jobs are vital for Bristol’s future, so I’ll do everything I can to support businesses and colleges working together to ensure all young people, wherever they live in the city, have the same opportunity to develop new skills and maximise their potential.”

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