Building the workforce of tomorrow

Press Release: 14/10/2015

Economy and Skills forum

Winchester City Council held a meeting last week to explore the possibility of creating an Employment and Skills Partnership for the Winchester District.

Around 40 delegates from local businesses, schools, colleges and training establishments attended a meeting at Guildhall Winchester. During a workshop session they discussed working together to create more opportunities for enterprise, employment and skills development for residents of the District, especially young people.

Cllr James Byrnes, Winchester City Council’s Portfolio Holder for the Local Economy, who welcomed delegates to the meeting, said:

It’s true that the District is thriving economically. However, we believe that there are skills shortages in some of the sectors that are critical to the Winchester District. Care, construction and hospitality businesses all struggle to recruit. With our ageing population, a mass of planned new development and a thriving tourism industry, these are just three of the gaps we really ought to be filling.

Eloise Appleby, Winchester City Council’s Assistant Director for Economy and Communities, added:

As public authorities– previously the bedrock of Winchester’s employment - continue to contract, we need to foster growth in new sectors. As a Council, we would like to see a low-carbon economy developing. These discussions align well with the devolution prospectus set out by the local authorities of Hampshire, which seeks to raise productivity via employer–led development of a highly skilled workforce.

Delegates also heard a presentation from David Pollard, who chairs the Education, Skills and Business Support Policy Group of the Federation of Small Businesses, about what is happening on a national level. Stella McKnight, Director of Employment Partnerships at the University of Winchester, then spoke about how the university matches its courses with the needs of local employers. Simon Mills of HMP Winchester then told those present about the range of programmes designed to ‘upskill’ prisoners in preparation for their release.

The City Council is keen to hear from local employers, schools and colleges who would like to be part of this initiative. Please contact Alison Woods, Economy and Arts Manager at Winchester City Council, at awoods@winchester.gov.uk, stating what your organisation would like to achieve and whether it sees a formal partnership as the best way forward.