Continuing professional development company uses Regional Skills Assessments to inform their research

Recently, I interviewed Kim White, a member of our Economy & Labour Force topic group, about his use of the Regional Skills Assessment to direct the work of his organisation.

In October 2008, Kim, Chief Executive of Intelligent Career Development Limited (also known as i-CD) and was given the task by the Vice Chancellor of Wolverhampton University to set up a company specialising in Continuing Professional and Personal Development (CPPD).

i-CD is the result of a project conducted to identify the most effective way for the University to provide support to businesses in the area of CPPD. i-CD specifically works to develop courses and schedules which students and employers, in the workplace, find useful and relevant.

Kim used a variety of sources to help inform his research into the needs of employers and students, and to identify potential gaps within the CPPD marketplace.

The Regional Skills Assessment 2007 (pdf, 714kb), published by the West Midlands Regional Observatory, was one such source.

Kim said that the Regional Skills Assessment 2007 helped him to identify:

  • The need to train and upskill more employees to NVQ level 4 and above
  • The barriers to engagement in employment and learning (such as encouraging more students and graduates to remain in the West Midlands after graduation)

Related links

Making the skills links for Environmental Technology

There has been a fair bit of media interest in the Environmental Technology sector over the past couple of weeks, particularly from the BBC and Radio WM. This was stimulated by our recent Review of Skills in Environmental Technologies (pdf, 476kb).

In the main, the interest has concentrated around how the sector has faired better than wider manufacturing through the recession, and the huge potential for future growth – for example in renewable energy and recycling.

This is good news for the West Midlands, as the industry has the potential to create jobs for Midlanders long in to the future.

But, to capitalise on the sector’s potential, our research (pdf, 476kb) shows that businesses need to be able to access the right people with the right skills; in some cases, very specific skills that are up to date with the latest technology.

We found that Environmental Technology companies are finding it difficult to find people with the right skills, and the report (pdf, 476kb) makes some recommendations on how to overcome the barriers.

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Survey on destinations of graduates from higher education

Graduates at Birmingham UniversityThe Destinations of leavers from higher education longitudinal survey (PDF, 2.02mb) is a new report published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

The survey aims to examine what graduates are doing three years after graduation. Questionnaires were completed by graduates who left university in 2004/05 on a range of subjects including their activities during November 2008.

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High levels of satisfaction amongst West Midlands student population

Students at Aston University with laptopThe 2009 National Student Survey found that 4 out of 5 of students across the UK are satisfied with the courses they are studying at university.

Over 223,363 students took part in the annual survey (a response rate of 62% for the UK), which was conducted by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

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Investment in higher level skills needed to kick start the region’s recovery

Person sat next to computer screens at Serious Games Institute, Coventry UniversityInvestment in higher level skills is vital to kick start the region’s recovery from recession but the proportion of the workforce qualified to degree level or above is well below the national average, particularly in the private sector.

New research (pdf, 258kb) by the West Midlands Regional Observatory shows that overall investment in skills and training is holding up despite the recession.

In the first quarter of 2009, three quarters of manufacturing firms and 80% of service sector firms were planning to either increase or maintain levels of spending on training despite the recession – in both cases the second highest proportion in England.

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Investment in higher level skills and the knowledge economy

The government’s University Challenge initiative aims to support investment in higher education at a local level in order to:

1: Support the development of a ‘knowledge economy’ by unlocking the talents of local people and providing the skills and knowledge transfer that enables local businesses to grow and to attract new investment to the area.

2: Make a real difference to the cultural life of our towns and cities.

Our review (PDF, 538KB) of the ‘market’ for higher education in the West Midlands, conducted at the request of Advantage West Midlands and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, highlights a range of key issues and barriers that any new investment needs to help to address.

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Regional Skills Assessment 2008: key issues for individuals and communities

Student common room at Aston UniversityWe produce the Regional Skills Assessment each year, providing commentary on the changing labour market to inform the work of a wide range of organisations.

In this article, I’m highlighting key issues for individuals and communities from our skills assessment work in 2008.

There have been significant local and sub-regional variations in skills and labour market trends and issues in recent years. In particular:

Some parts of the region have benefited significantly from employment growth in recent years. There have been notable benefits in:

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The role of work placements in graduate retention

The Regional Observatory’s skills team have recently completed a major research project on graduate retention, attraction and employment for the Regional Skills Partnership and the West Midlands Higher Education Association.

One of the key findings is that 40% of graduates leave the region to find employment, especially in higher skilled, higher paying jobs in high value-added high technology industries and knowledge based services. Graduates from the Universities of Warwick, Keele and Aston are most likely to leave the region while those from Coventry and Wolverhampton Universities are most likely to stay.

The research also found that graduates who take part in work placement activity are much more likely to stay in the region. They have forged links beyond the university campus and are more likely to have got beyond the stereotypes of what the region is like as a place to live and work. Continue reading

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