The Business of Skills, Episode Two of Let’s Go Further


A national, long-term skills strategy that can respond with agility and flexibility to the needs of employers and local communities is what’s required to solve our skills problems, according to our guests on episode two of the Let’s Go Further podcast, The Business of Skills.


Jane Gratton, Deputy Director of Public Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce and Nicola Drury, Head of Skills and Apprenticeships at Amazon join presenter Shane Chowen to discuss the ever-growing skills gap from an employer’s perspective.


Jane makes the point that three out of four businesses surveyed by the British Chambers of Commerce are unable to recruit the skills they need. She also discusses how stability is key if the system is going to work:

What we need is a stable process … stability and certainty, because it takes a long time for businesses to understand and hear about what’s in place, then even longer for them to get their head around how they can make it work for their system.

Jane continues by emphasising the importance of businesses also having the ability to both upskill and reskill their employees:

The workplace is changing at a phenomenal pace, more digital, more automated, the circular economy, the green economy. What we really need is a slick system for getting people re-skilled, getting them into different jobs…. getting them into new opportunities within employers  … so that the employer can grasp the opportunity and an individual has a really quick way to get the skills they need for them to progress at work.”

Nicola emphasises the effects of the many changes over the last few years – both circumstantial via economic uncertainties and the pandemic – and in the number of skills initiatives; T Levels, Bootcamps, Multiply and Kickstart.


She talks about how, at Amazon, they’ve grown their apprenticeships:

“The fact that there’s no age restrictions, that helps the ageing workforce. They help people pivot, it gives people an alternative – and a great alternative – to university. So, for me, that’s a really strong system”

Nicola also discusses the Skills Fund and the need to use it to support regional devolved areas of skill.

The panel also acknowledge the need to address the fact that only 50% of students are leaving education with a grade C or above in Maths and English, alongside the need for those softer employability skills such as personal resilience and team working.


Jane discusses the recent evaluation of the Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) and comments that of the 32 being led by Chambers, they’ve had over 65,000 businesses engage in a few months, which she notes is exciting and the beginning of a process of change.


Episode three looks at who is filling the skills gap and features contributions from Naomi Clayton, Deputy Director at the Learning and Work Institute and Sam Tuckett, Associate Director for Post-16 and Skills at the Education Policy Institute.

Let’s Go Further is produced by the Skills and Education Group in collaboration with Research Podcasts and is available wherever you receive your podcasts, including YouTube. You can follow the Skills and Education Group on LinkedIn, Twitter and via their website.


New episodes of the podcast will be published  throughout Spring and Summer.


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