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Business leaders debate skills retention

2 men and 2 women standing around lecturn

Business leaders debate skills retention

NORTH East businesses have shown a united front in addressing the region’s ongoing skills issues at an event held for industry leaders recently.

Talent retention and a hand-in-hand approach between business and young people were just some of the key topics discussed by representatives from the manufacturing, recruitment and education sector at the event which was hosted by leading accountancy practice Tait Walker.

Over 40 directors from the North East business community attended to listen to compere Alastair Wilson and Pamela Petty of Ebac, Newcastle University’s Joanna Berry and Ian Pickett, from recruitment specialists Drayton Partners, who made up the panel that debated the ongoing skills issue and its implications for the region.

Ebac Group’s Pamela Petty said: “At Ebac we feel particularly strongly about changing the view of manufacturing within the education system and society and retaining the future talent pipeline in this region. The manufacturing and engineering sector as a whole requires brand development and long-term investment to ensure it is seen as an attractive career option and as an important part of the UK’s economic and social future.”

Dr Joanna Berry from Newcastle University Business School, participated as a voice for Higher Education in the North East. She said: “With five brilliant universities in this region we have a significant amount of intellectual capital at our finger tips, which we need to retain for the long-term benefit of the local economy.

“There is no doubt that education and businesses need to work together – at present Newcastle University has more students seeking work placements than there are businesses willing to offer them, so this imbalance needs to be addressed and fast.

“Students have a lot to offer the business community and the long term benefits of retaining this talent in our region needs to be recognised cross-sector; if we can offer them a bright future we will reap the benefits of their skills further down the line.”

Echoing the theme of talent retention, Ian Pickett, joint founder of specialist Recruitment firm Drayton Partners, provided an overview of the challenges facing businesses looking to recruit top talent to the North East.

Originally from the North West, when approached for a role in Newcastle, Ian discussed how he was apprehensive about moving and had misconceptions about life in the region, where he now lives and works.

He said: “The North East has a lot to offer and keeping our talent pool full and watertight is key to our future economic success. Businesses need to embrace the rise of technology and social media, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, as powerful tools to communicate and market themselves to prospective candidates.  This approach requires an organisation to invest in developing a recruitment strategy that is built around strong employment brand values.”

Tait Walker’s Alastair Wilson, who chaired the event, which took place at Gateshead’s Marriott Hotel, said: “It’s always incredibly empowering to see members of our business community joining forces on issues they clearly care so much about. Most North East businesses are having hands on experience of skills and retention issues and have suggestions of how we could combat them.

“We need to keep discussing and debating these issues, which play such a key role in shaping the future of the region and Tait Walker will continue to instigate events such as this to keep the conversation going and keep skills on the public agenda.”

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