There’s never been a more important time to help employers and employees acquire the skills they need here in Wales. Every region and community across the country is facing many challenges and opportunities.
In a post-pandemic and post-Brexit world, Skills Gateway for Business is here to help everyone prepare, develop and adapt; identifying and nurturing the skills needed to thrive and prosper in what many are calling the fourth industrial revolution.
Last summer the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales pledged to invest in helping businesses recruit and train up an inclusive workforce – with particular emphasis on improved outcomes for disabled people and the creation of six Disabled People’s Employment Champions.
We spoke with Steve McNally, Business News Wales’ Industry Editor for Skills & Learning, to find out how Welsh Government programmes are helping Wales to skill, upskill and re-skill, and to fully realise the potential of every person and every enterprise across the country.
“For the past 30 years or so I’ve been writing about skills shortages in some shape or form. From STEM skills crises to demographic timebombs and accessibility discrimination; you name it, I’ve probably covered it. But this perfect storm of pandemic, Brexit and the Fourth Industrial Revolution has caused me to stop and reflect – and I’ve come to the conclusion that bridging the skills gap is all about matching the training with the motivations of the people being trained.
“Engaging the hearts and minds of people we need to train, retrain, redeploy or recruit”
“That’s why the We’re in Your Corner campaign is so pertinent, as we need to embrace every talent community and strengthen every type of business in Wales.
“Skills Gateway is such an important platform for our future success as a country, with the whole ‘Prepare. Develop. Adapt’ philosophy giving any organisation in Wales the tailored support it needs to identify the skills profile it has today and align it with the workforce requirements of tomorrow. It also provides a roadmap to engage with the hearts and minds of the people it needs to train, retrain, redeploy or recruit.
“I spoke with employers and training providers in Wales and found a common view that we’re at a moment in time where we can create a resilient, prosperous and inclusive future if we work together to make that future happen.”
“Acting now to make sure a generation of people aren’t left behind”
For John-Paul Barker, PwC’s Regional Leader for Wales & The West of England, “closing the skills gap and creating opportunities for young people is simply vital. Wales has particularly big challenges and we need to act now to make sure a generation of people aren’t left behind. This comes back to the importance of education, but also how Wales’ problems cannot be solved by the government alone.
“The role that business has to play in upskilling is critical to ensuring Wales’ workforce is where it needs to be as the 2020s progress. With growth comes a commitment to diversity and social mobility and that’s especially the case here in Wales, where the challenges we are facing in wealth disparity over the next 10 years are going to be significant.”
“An incredible opportunity for Wales to revolutionise the employability and wellbeing of both the present and future generations.”
John Kilvington’s Career-Fit maps motivations and identifies career and entrepreneurial paths for individuals, employers, training providers and governments – and he believes “this pandemic presents an incredible opportunity for Wales to revolutionise the employability agenda and positively affect the wellbeing of both the present and future generations. This is a global phenomenon, but Wales is supremely positioned to take an agile and future focused approach to employability.
“The key is that employability skills are learnt skills available to virtually everybody. It only needs individuals to be motivated to be able to totally transform the employability landscape. We can identify these skills and map them to opportunities but the key is motivating each individual to play their part in this revolution. If Wales is brave, it will happen.”
“Very few of us really know ourselves and the career paths that are ‘right’ for us”
For Louise Harris of Cardiff-based Big Learning Company, assessing someone’s suitability for skilling means connecting with the natural ambitions of the individual – and very often being the catalyst for a light-bulb moment: “Very few of us really know ourselves, at any age. Yet we expect people with little experience of life or knowledge of themselves in a workplace to jump at an advertising message, sail through a training programme and enjoy a brilliant working experience with the employers who are right for them. That’s’ why the Skills Gateway is a critical platform for harnessing all the undoubted talent and potential we have here in Wales, for people of any age or experience.”
“A great opportunity to build a more prosperous, equal and greener economy in Wales ”
That opportunity for Wales to seize the day is borne out by conversations with many different employers across Wales. The last word goes to one of those, Paul Thornton, Head of Talent Acquisition at Kier Group plc: “Like so many other industries, Engineering and Construction is changing before our very eyes – and yet for the past decade this sector has had unfilled vacancies in key areas, whether the economy is booming or in a recession. If Wales can embrace an inclusive skilling method that matches talent to opportunity in all sectors, it has a great chance to build a more prosperous, equal and greener economy than ever before.”
For more information on the support available through Skills Gateway, head to We're in your corner | Business Wales Skills Gateway (gov.wales) or call 03000 6 03000 to speak with a Business Wales adviser.