July 2017


Fay devotes her skills to helping fill Warwickshire's Skills Gap

"The most enjoyable part of my job," says Fay Winterburn, "is getting out and about in Warwickshire, meeting the people running small businesses, seeing their passion and skills and helping them achieve growth."

Fay is a Business Skills Advisor based in Warwickshire County Council's Economy & Skills office.

Not that she spends much time in the office. Most of her time is spent travelling aroundthe countyto speak to business people and help them identify, and fill, skills gaps within their companies.

It is a job that she finds fascinating - and very rewarding.

With plenty of relevant experience in skills and business development, mainly in the private sector, Fay is delighted to now have a role where the objective is rather more rounded and edifying than simply turning a profit.

And it is a job which has flowed perfectly from a lifelong interest and involvement in business, latterly from a career with the likes of Midlands Training & Development and CWT Chamber Training and formerly as a youngster helping out in her parents' shop.

Fay attended Nicholas Chamberlaine School in Bedworth and her parents ran a hardware shop in the town. And that business environment struck a chord with her very early on.
"I worked in the shop after school and on Saturdays and loved it," she said. "From a very early age, I was fascinated by how business worked and loved analysing the market and what was selling and how we could improve things.

"I studied Business Studies and Psychology at college but Business Studies was always my main objective and I have been lucky enough to have worked in that area for most of my career. The only exception was when I spent two years working for an estate agent. That wasn't for me. Too cut-throat!

"I have always really enjoyed having jobs where I can offer practical help - so when the county council advertised for a Business Skills Advisor I was very interested. It sounded like a role suited to my skills - in the county I know and love.

"It seemed ideal. And so it has proved. I love it."

Fay's knowledge, energy and contacts are now at the disposal of the business community throughout Warwickshire. And that community is responding positively and feeling the benefit of what Fay and her colleagues in the Economy & Skills group have to offer.

"My role is to work with businesses to identify any skills gaps and how they can fill them, whilst identifying different support packages and funding streams that might help them achieve this" she said. "We analyse the structure of the business and see what the solution might be - whether they can upskill their existing staff or take on new staff, perhaps apprentices. 

"Businesses all over the county have been really receptive, partly, I think, because they know I am not there to sell anything but just to offer support. Basically, I spend time with them and find out what their ambitions are and how they can achieve them.

"If I can't directly help I can put them in touch with somebody who can. There is a very broad range of business support accessible through Warwickshire County Council and supportive partners such as The Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub, Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and FSB."

Among the projects with which Fay is involved is the Business Ready programme, Skills 4 Growth and Skills Support for the Workforce. Numerous other projects are up and running or in the pipeline and she is thoroughly relishing getting stuck in on behalf of the county she knows so well.

"I am Warwickshire born and bred and having that local knowledge certainly helps," she said. "Warwickshire is a really diverse county so our team has to be versatile because there are so many different businesses with different needs.

"But that just makes the job more interesting. No two days are ever the same!"


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