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Essex: Employment and Skills Board launches sector-based action groups

13:00 14 June 2014

Colin Larkin, plant manager at Case New Holland and Essex Employment and Skills Board sector lead for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, with other  members of the board

Colin Larkin, plant manager at Case New Holland and Essex Employment and Skills Board sector lead for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, with other members of the board's sector action group.

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Seven sector-specific action groups have been formed by the Essex Employment and Skills Board to help tackle skills shortages in the county.

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The board brings together employers, colleges and local authorities with the aim of matching skills provision to the needs of local businesses.

As part of a detailed research project the board has identified seven market areas as having the greatest growth potential in Essex but constrained by the availability of people with the necessary skills to deliver that growth. These sectors are: Construction, Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, Health, Care, Creative, IT & Technology and Logistics.

The action group for each of these sectors is led by a member of the skills board, themselves an employer in the sector and so experienced in the specific challenges facing the group.

Employers can join in the debate and have their opinions heard by attending a meeting, contributing to a LinkedIn group or simply by making contact directly. Full contact details for each group can be found on the Essex ESB website http://esb.essexpartnership.org (see “Contact us”)

Suzanne Jude, chair of the Essex ESB, said “Against the background of fragile economic conditions, we have identified clear areas for business growth in Essex.

“However, a common difficulty shared across these diverse markets is that of skills availability, sometimes in broad interpersonal skills, but often in technical skills specific to an individual market area.

“It is important that we provide the opportunity for businesses to have a voice in the skills debate and I would encourage Essex businesses to get involved through their relevant action group.”

The first meeting of the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering group was recently held at Case New Holland plant in Basildon, hosted by board member Colin Larkin, plant manager, and was well attended by business representatives across major employers and SMEs.

Roy Elphick, engineering director at Stansted airport, who attended the meeting, said: “We have 75 engineers at Stansted covering a wide range of needs. The challenge for us now is in attracting new engineers to learn from the knowledge and skills of our more experienced team members.”

Valerie Lynch of AND Technology and Research added “We have a core of 10 highly trained software and electronics engineers.

“I am passionate about getting the voice of SMEs heard in the skills debate. SMEs represent by far the greater number of employers and start-ups in Essex and have an important role to play in attracting people into the STEM environment.”

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