Skills challenge comes under scrutiny

23 January 2018

Britain’s “biggest challenge” – the need to increase the UK’s skill base – is to be scrutinised in a debate in Birmingham, chaired by Sir Michael Lyons, former chief executive of Birmingham City Council and chair of the BBC Trust.

The Lunar Society event, supported by the international law firm Pinsent Masons and Birmingham Metropolitan College, follows publication of several reports that pinpoint the skills crisis as being one of the biggest challenges facing the UK.

The most recent Quarterly Economic Survey from the British Chambers of Commerce says skills shortages in the UK are reaching critical levels.

The report, based on responses from more than 7,000 businesses, shows that growth in the UK economy remains subdued and that skills shortages are becoming even more of a concern to business leaders. 

The free event at 6pm on Monday 12 February at the Matthew Boulton Campus of Birmingham Metropolitan College, is intended to foster a more energetic debate in Birmingham and the West Midlands.

"We are asking the question ‘is there really a skills crisis and if so what more can we do to respond to it?’” said Sir Michael  who is deputy chair of The Lunar Society which was founded by Birmingham’s greatest industrialists and today influences change by broadening debate and catalysing action.

“We can all see the challenges ahead of us. Whether we need to focus on the need to improve UK productivity, improve wages, prepare for a post-Brexit world, meet the challenge of the digital revolution, prepare for the impact of AI – or simply work out what training and education we need - we come back to the same issue. We will be exploring whether Britain needs to rethink its approach to what many believe is one of the greatest inhibitors to our country’s growth.

“We have pulled together an impressive panel for an innovative and energetic discussion but are also encouraging attendance by anyone with an interest in how we can improve skills training and meet the challenges of the present and future.

“Holding the event at Birmingham Metropolitan College will also enable us to involve young people – including those who currently making their own decisions and whose future depends on a versatile and progressive economy.

“Employers in both the public and private sectors still report that skills are the number one challenge facing their organisation’s development. The suggestion is that we need radical rethinking of both policy and practice. Our event will encourage both the panel and the audience to explore what more can be done.”                                                                                                                           

The panel includes:

Joel Blake OBE, who leads the Growing Business strategy for the GBSLEP, is the Chair of Diversity in Tech group for Silicon Canal and is a member of the WMCA Digital Board.

Lizzie Crowley, a Senior Skills Advisor for the Chartered Institute of Professional Development and leads the Institute’s policy and research on skills.

Karen Jones, a Human Resources Director for Redrow Homes Ltd and a member of the CITB board.

Mushtaq Khan, a prominent member of Birmingham’s professional services community. He is a former President of the Birmingham Law Society and is a member of the Birmingham Education Partnership Board.

Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman of Ogilvy London and founder of Ogilvy Change and serves on the advisory board of The Evolution Institute.

Dawn Ward, chief executive and principal of Burton and South Derbyshire College, a council member of Greater Birmingham Chamber, a past president of Burton Chamber and vice chair of the Chartered Institution for Further Education.

The event is free to attend. For more information click here.

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