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Exploring the impact of Skills for Success and understanding employers' perspectives



Funded by SEEDA

28th January 2004
The Oxford Hotel, Godstow Road, Oxford

The opportunity to hear employers' perspectives on the value of workplace basic skills ensured that the fifth in the series of South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) funded, Workplace Basic Skills Network sub-regional seminars, was sold out before the day and ensured a strong turnout, despite the MET office 'Severe Weather Warnings'.

The day started with Hugh Tollyfield, Deputy Director of Skills for Success at the Department for Education and Skills, confirming the government's continued support and high expectations for skills. It closed with a challenge from David Wylie, WBSN Regional Development Manager and John Tempest, ABSSU SE Regional Coordinator, to understand the implications of the latest national needs analysis and its implications on attitudes to skills development in education's own workplace.

The afternoon workshops were well received with discussion around the day's presentations that were on: funding methodology from Sara Binns, LSC Milton Keynes Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire; the Move On campaign from Suzanne Dunsmore, Move On's Regional Co-ordinator; Business Banter from Ray Smith, 'In Business' Coordinator from Buckinghamshire County Council, and 'How to think outside the box' from Taryn Jerling, Community Learning Manager at Cricklade College, Andover.

Delegates received clarification from Geoff Bayley, Sector Skills Development Manager, on the way that so many strands are being pulled together in SEEDA's strategy for successful people in an everexpanding raft of Sectors. They also heard the latest National Research findings linked to key issues of workplace delivery by Jay Derrick.

However everyone agreed that it was the employers who stole the show.

Carol Clark, HR Manager at W Lucy and Co, an electrical engineering firm in Oxford, underlined how their need to develop an employees' skill base went hand in hand with major innovations and the company moving to new premises. She also talked about the benefits of raising levels of skill and esteem, even in a time of some staff redundancies.

Jake Karia, Managing Director at Global Fine Foods, purveyors of luxury foods to Harrods, and inventor of the Skills Passport, explained how essential developing workplace basic skills is to surviving in a highly
competitive global economy and in a business where the company has needed to grow 250% in one year. He also discussed how skills related training and personal development plans can ensure the company's success when everyone is working together to improve their skills passport, including their Chief Executive Officer.

Tim Fenn, owner-manager of Oakwood Construction, had the audience laughing aloud with examples of the deeply embedded traditional attitudes to skills and teamwork that exist in construction but how their 30 craftsmen now warmly embrace on-site email, along with the latest eco friendly production methods.

The commentary from delegates was very positive:

"Very useful to get a perspective from employers"

"The presentations by the employers were excellent”

"Varied programme - presentations not too long - kept my interest”

“Private sector / business involvement”


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