The team that sees its work not as a job but as a vocation...
"Any leader of a service draws up a mental image of what your 'dream team' might look like...I am truly delighted that, with my team, such a vision has come to life."
As Warwickshire's economy restarts in the coming months, the business community faces the challenge of rebuilding - and a big part of that will be identifying and sourcing the skills required.
Warwickshire County Council's Economy and Skills team is with businesses every step of the way to help them tackle the challenges ahead.
The Skills team has recently invested in a number of new supportive roles, services and funded projects. This pledge of additional resources stems from the council's Economic Recovery Plan to support businesses in the wake of the pandemic.
The county council’s Employability and Skills team (also known as The Warwickshire Skills Hub) has grown significantly in recent months.
The six-strong team, headed by Fay Winterburn (Lead Commissioner, Employability and Skills), has a unique blend of highly experienced business, careers and project officers well qualified and equipped to support businesses build back their workforces. They offer support in re-shaping, upskilling and supporting businesses to be well prepared for a post-pandemic world.
Fay’s team works to an ethos of Innovate, shape and create. Creativity is their watchword. The team meets with multiple businesses on a daily basis to discuss their current work and explore supportive funding, but is also constantly looking out for new ways to offer support and help businesses to be as economically stable as possible.
Fay is very proud of the team she leads.
"Any leader of a service draws up a mental image of what your 'dream team' might look like and what kind of background and values you hope they will bring," she said. "I am truly delighted that, with my team, such a vision really has come to life.
"We have been incredibly lucky to attract some great people to our roles. Our team doesn’t just see our work as a job but as a vocation. Who could wish for more?
"It has been such a tough year for the business community and there are still challenges ahead but we have a team with the experience, expertise and passion to help businesses through those challenges.
"We know that many jobs will be different post-COVID and new skills will be needed. The needs of employers are constantly evolving and we are ready to ensure our support and service evolves too to meet their needs.”
The Business Skills review service is the Warwickshire Skills Hub's core service. It offers free, impartial and unlimited support to businesses planning changes to their workforce whether through upskilling, recruitment or introducing new talent to the organisation.
The service is immensely popular with hundreds of businesses already exploring what it has to offer. Funded training, work placements and apprenticeships are currently the most discussed and the team is in overdrive to support those conversations whilst bringing in additional delivery partners and supportive funding.
Vicki Haslam, the newly appointed Senior Business Skills Advisor, said: “In the short time I have been in post we have already seen a large number of businesses book virtual meetings with our team.
"The economy is at such a sensitive stage and businesses know how crucial it is to plan well. Ensuring the workforce is reaching its highest level of productivity will protect jobs, so it’s important that we walk alongside businesses and ensure they have the tools to train and bring in additional skills too.
"As a team we’re not afraid to also have difficult conversations too. Whilst we do everything we can to protect jobs, if job cuts are inevitable we can call upon our colleagues at the Coventry and Warwickshire Redundancy Service to offer specialist support. Thankfully, compared to the national picture, redundancies remain relatively low in our region which is believed to be due to our pre-pandemic strong economy.”
The Business Skills Review service is just one of many different strands of support the team have to offer. Other examples of their Covid Recovery work so far include:
Warwickshire Small Business Apprenticeship Programme: A funding pledge to cover the cost of the apprenticeship training.
Warwickshire Apprenticeship Progression Programme: A £1,000 incentive to progress apprentices to meet new needs of the business.
Inclusive Apprenticeships: A re-shaped Apprenticeship programe to support people with Special Educational Needs and disabilities into employment and training.
Digital Market Place Filming: A fully funded filming opportunity for all recruiting businesses to showcase their Careers
Coventry and Warwickshire Redundancy Support Service: A service to support businesses who are considering or triggering redundancies.
Build Back Stronger Workshops: A series of virtual workshops to support businesses in welcoming back their employees and re-shaping their skills to meet the new needs of the business.
Business wanting to benefit from any of the services or support the Warwickshire Skills Hubs has to offer can contact the team on firstname.lastname@example.org