One of Marketing Stockport’s very early objectives was to try to increase the job prospects and career opportunities for young people in Stockport and stem the leakage of skills, not only out of the Borough but out of the region too.
Since the launch of Marketing Stockport in 2012, the geographical, social and economic landscape across Stockport has and continues to change, quite dramatically.
Five years ago Stockport Council’s £1bn invest programme was a twinkle in the eye; Manchester Airport’s £1bn investment to transform T2 was just an idea in the sky; the A6 Manchester Airport Relief Road was still on the drawing board and Media City had only just brought the sparkle to Salford.
Today, an ongoing programme of investment and improved infrastructure & connectivity has attracted many new businesses to Stockport, bringing with it the new job creation we had pinpointed as necessary opportunities for young people in Stockport to choose to remain or relocate to Stockport, ultimately contributing to the local economy and building a more sustainable future.
With over 12,000 businesses already based here, Stockport can 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. 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.
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.
But with increasing demand from expanding SMEs and larger organisations moving to the area, gaps are beginning to emerge across several sectors.
One Stockport town centre business who are already feeling the impact of the town’s investment programme is Marketing Stockport member, Grassroots Recruitment. For the past 10 years they have been supporting local employers to grow their business with exceptional, locally based candidates. Growth is particularly high in professional, technical, entertainment, communication and digital, with each sector expected to increase jobs by 15-20% by 2024.
Caroline Patten, Operations Director at Grassroots Recruitment:
“The introduction of the UK Apprenticeship Levy earlier has come at the right time for Stockport businesses.
Growth provides opportunities for young people in Stockport and 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.
Stockport’s 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 up-skilling and re-skilling 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 contributed by Caroline Patten of Grassroots Recruitment