Norfolk chamber calls on government of the future to focus on improving skills sets of tomorrow’s workforce

Norfolk Chamber of Commerce
Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

Norfolk Chamber is calling for any future government to focus on improving the skills set of tomorrow’s workforce vital for the growth of a healthy economy.

The key business asks come ahead of next week’s general election with the Chamber stating that for sustainable growth, businesses need

people of all ages with the specialist skills, training and qualifications.

Norfolk businesses need to look to the next generation and therefore the national education curriculum needs to become more enterprise and business focussed, it said.

Nova Fairbank, public affairs manager for Norfolk Chamber said: “To fill the skills gap, Norfolk businesses have to be able to attract, communicate and ultimately recruit and retain young people and they need to understand the best methods to do this. Apprenticeships is one route, however employers are still unsure about the new apprenticeship levy works and more information is needed from government and the training providers. There needs to be more engagement between businesses and schools will help deliver improved soft skills and boost students’ job prospects.”

Commenting on the need to ensure a skilled future workforce, James Mason, commercial director at Norfolk Training Services, which has bases in Lynn, Norwich and Great Yarmouth, said: “It would be easy for any incoming government to lose sight of maintaining the momentum in delivering apprenticeships – there are so many challenges. Brexit may take attention away from the development of skills and changes in funding brought about as a direct consequence of the introduction of the Levy could potentially result in apprenticeship numbers reducing in the next two years. “In recent times, Norfolk apprenticeship numbers have outpaced national figures, something that Norfolk employers and their workforces can rightly be proud of and which will have benefitted Norfolk business. Let’s not jeopardise this development of our present and future labour force and lose sight of the benefits for our Norfolk economy that accrue from a skilled workforce.”

Speaking about the benefits of employing a young person, Kieran Miles, chairman of the Norfolk Young Chamber Board and chief executive of KakeCo said: “A young person can bring new ideas, energy, perspective and insight into a business. Their view on the world, tasks and business as we know it can add tremendous value to an organisation. I can’t say every young person is as motivated or skilled as each other, but I can say they do all share a one thing and that’s different perspective; something all businesses need in this prosperous time.”