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Transferable Skills are Key to our Future as a Dynamic and Resilient Region

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Written by Leigh Hughes, Chair of Cardiff Capital Region Skills Partnership

It’s becoming increasingly clear that we cannot expect to avoid a substantial rise in unemployment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The morning news seems almost daily to bring fresh stories about companies announcing closures and redundancies. The extensive government support programmes designed to support jobs will be phased out over the coming months, which is likely to lead to a further round of job losses.

Cardiff Capital Region will not escape this. What we can do is help people threatened with redundancy to find new jobs elsewhere. As in any great economic dislocation, while jobs are being lost in many companies, they are also being created in others.

Every crisis provides an opportunity for somebody. A great many businesses, particularly in the most vulnerable sectors such as tourism, hospitality, and high street retail, have had to let people go. But others, such as online retail and digital, have seen their businesses grow and been hiring.

Investing in Transferable Skills and Re-skilling Programmes is Essential

It’s always a useful thing, at any time, to have skills that are readily transferable from one occupation to another. At times like these it’s an essential asset. It can make the difference between a prolonged spell of unemployment, and a rapid sideward shift into a new career.

That’s why in Cardiff Capital Region we place a great emphasis on helping people develop the sort of skills that will help them, not just in going into their preferred career, but in moving into other occupations if they need or want to.

This is not just a short-term response to the present Covid-related downturn. It’s a recognition that, given our dynamic, fast-changing economy, the old days of a lifelong career are well and truly behind us and flexibility is key. Not only does it allow the individual to switch jobs and pursue new ambitions, it equips our region with a workforce and businesses that can take advantage of economic change.

Change has been accelerated by the impact of Covid-19. Many businesses shifted a large proportion of their staff to working from home, and are now considering whether they should make that change permanent for at least some workers, with consequent savings in property overheads. Others have accelerated a previously gradual shift to more digital ways of working. Some sectors, such as advanced manufacturing, may see an accelerated move towards more robotics.

Taking a Partnership Approach

In Cardiff Capital Region we take a partnership approach between industry, government and education and training providers to ensure our people have the skills they need to survive and get ahead in this changing economy.

Coronavirus and the lockdown have forced and incentivised a great deal of adaptation and diversification among businesses in the region. Many businesses have shown an extraordinary level of innovation and dynamism in their response. In the CCR Regional Skills Partnership we are determined not to let this innovation go to waste, but to capture it and help businesses and other institutions to share best practice and work together collaboratively to enhance skills.

Some additional training may be required to make sure people with transferable skills are able to move easily from one sector to another. Our aim is to develop a versatile workforce with a foundation of skills that will enable them to move to wherever new jobs are.

The immediate aftermath of Covid-19 is likely to be rising unemployment. We need to develop our resilience as a region so that we get back on the path to full employment and growth. At the heart of that is a skilled, versatile and flexible workforce. That is our goal, and our hope for a positive outcome from this crisis.