Stockport is home to a highly educated, skilled and professional workforce with over a third of residents qualified to degree level or equivalent.
There is a growing skills economy for local employers to take advantage of but, with increasing demand from expanding SMEs and larger organisations moving to the area, gaps are beginning to emerge across several sectors.
The introduction of the UK Apprenticeship Levy earlier this year has therefore come at the right time for Stockport businesses.
Grassroots Recruitment, which supplies professional services, sales and technical staff to companies in Stockport and across the North West, works to identify current and future gaps in their resource planning and develop targeted strategies to onboard necessary skills.
Caroline Patten, Operations Director at Stockport based Grassroots Recruitment, discusses this further:
Apprenticeships have a long tradition as an entry route to skilled trades and blue-collar occupations, raising the status of vocational education and on-the-job learning for school leavers and young people. But under the Apprenticeships Levy, the real impact comes from the opportunity to upskill existing employees lacking necessary experience, as well as developing middle and senior managers to Master’s degree level.
In 2014, Stockport Council launched the UK’s first independent Apprenticeships Store in Stockport Exchange. With hundreds of apprenticeship vacancies on offer with local businesses, the service allows young people and adults to find a role that is suited to their knowledge and skills, as well as offering employers the use of office space for interviews.
As part of Stockport’s £1 billion investment programme, the town centre is attracting an increasing number of larger businesses and leading brand names which are either relocating their existing offices or choosing to open new ones in the area. But it’s not just the big corporates that are jumping on board.
With over 12,000 businesses based here, Stockport continues to boast some of the biggest increases in SMEs and new business start-ups, demonstrating strong levels of entrepreneurship and exceeding regional and national survival rates. Growth is particularly high in professional, technical, entertainment, communication and digital, with each sector expected to increase jobs by 15-20% by 2024.
This spike in job vacancies and demand for high quality recruits means the need for skills training in priority sectors has never been more important. There’s a well-documented shortage of people with skills in the fields of engineering, healthcare and technology, particularly prevalent in those sectors driving innovation and exacerbated by competition for experienced hires.
Savvy organisations across the borough who have identified upcoming skills shortages as part of their plans for growth are therefore seizing apprenticeships as an essential tool to future-proof their businesses. Providing a crucial mechanism to lead the evolution of the SK economy, these employer-led training schemes offer huge efficiencies to address specific business challenges.
“Local employers know the competition for suitably-qualified, skilled and experienced people is fierce. The surge in the Stockport economy and the pace of change in technology means they need exceptional entry-level recruits, as well as requiring people to develop and enhance their skills throughout their working lives.”
Apprenticeships provide the platform to make experienced generalists into specialists, as well as advancing high-performing individuals into leadership roles. More and more of our clients in Stockport are recognising the importance of upskilling and reskilling employees as a means of attracting, retaining and developing talent.
We continue to engage with our clients and the wider Stockport business community regarding their envisaged recruitment needs over the next three years. By communicating their needs to council leaders, training providers, work clubs and local skills initiatives, we can help Stockport employers to plan for and deliver the skills they need for the future.
Expert Opinion provided by Caroline Patten, Operations Director at Grassroots Recruitment.