Regional partnership aims to bridge the skills gap

Regional partnership aims to bridge the skills gap

A new £3.3 million business skills and growth project has been launched with the aim of providing Midlands based companies access to graduate recruits, interns and project staff with the skills businesses need to grow.

A recent report, produced by Birmingham City University think-tank the Institute for Design and Economic Acceleration (IDEA), highlighted that 30% of organisation within the West Midlands are unable to recruit to meet their needs as a result of the current skills gap

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are urged to get involved with the project to reap the benefits of increased business productivity and innovation. That was the key message from Rachel McIntosh, Strategic Projects Manager at Aston University, to an audience of SMEs at the latest Fresh Perspectives event.

Rachel shared how the project, The Higher Level Skills Match (HLSM), is designed with and for businesses, supporting SMEs in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) area and part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF).

HLSM is a collaborative venture between Birmingham City, Aston and Newman Universities, along with Cannock Chase, Lichfield and Tamworth local authorities, who have come together in partnership to tackle the growing rift between the skills businesses need and the skills that applicants, and the current workforce, have.

This Project is the first on its kind that will allow local businesses to access the graduate talent pool and business support services of all three Birmingham-based universities through one, easy to navigate and free of charge service.  They will also receive 1-2-1 account management support, to ensure they can access the most appropriate skills and business support services, in the shortest possible time.

The HLSM project will provide bespoke graduate level skills development, recruitment and advice services, drawn from an extensive portfolio of HE skills provision. The range of support offered to SMEs in the GBSLEP area will include:

  • developing the leadership, decision making, business development, enterprise and sustainable growth skills companies require to grow their business, and share fully in the economic growth opportunities forecast for the GBSLEP areas between 2017 and 2022;
  • accessing the range of higher-level skills that are essential to the future prosperity of local businesses, and which only graduates and postgraduates can offer;
  • contributing to the GBSLEP’s vision to ensure local skill provision is designed with and for business, to better meet current and future skills demand;
  • contributing to, and benefitting directly from, tailored employability and enterprise skills support offered to local undergraduates, graduates and postgraduates.

In turn, local companies will be actively encouraged to contribute to the design of Higher Education (HE) skills provision, to ensure it responds effectively to business needs, and to share their insights on the current and future demand for higher skills with the GBSLEP’s Employment and Skills Board.

To find out more about HLSM visit the website or email

Book your free place for the next Fresh Perspectives talk on Tuesday 12 December with Dr Keith Glanfield presenting ‘”Living” the brand; an unachievable, outdated and irrelevant distraction?’