Over 100 people representing over 70 Hertfordshire employers attended a Skills Summit on Tuesday 16 September hosted by Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Hertfordshire County Council to discuss the finding that 79% of Hertfordshire businesses report skills gaps amongst their employees.

The survey, conducted by the University of Hertfordshire and its business support arm, Exemplas, received responses from 149 businesses. 45% of those surveyed said that an inability to recruit people with the necessary skills was a key problem for their organisation.

Employers attending today’s Skills Summit at BioPark in Welwyn Garden City focused on four key issues: preparing young people for the world of work; developing skills for a thriving economy; attracting, training and retaining key workers; and helping the vulnerable into employment.

Other topics included work-related skills gaps such as problem-solving, oral and written communications and advanced IT skills, as well as problems associated with the tightening of labour markets. Their discussions, along with the survey, will inform a Skills Strategy Action Plan which will include recommendations for businesses, Hertfordshire LEP, Hertfordshire County Council and key stakeholders.

Hertfordshire LEP arranged the attendance of a number of high profile businesses such as Johnson Matthey, Debenhams, Barclays, and Warner Bros, as well as a programme of speakers including:

• Councillor Chris Hayward, Hertfordshire County Council, who opened the discussion
• Neil Burns, Director, AECOM
• Teresa Chammings, District Manager, Job Centre Plus
• Dr Chris Brown - University of Hertfordshire
• Andy Forbes, Principal Hertford Regional College and Hertfordshire LEP Employment and Skills Board
• John Gourd - Site Planning and Services Director, Johnson Matthey & LEP Chair

Andy Forbes, Chair of the Skills and Employment board, said: “Ensuring that employers have access to people with the right skills is a key part of the LEP’s role. It was great to see that 62% of small businesses saw over 5% growth in the last year – investing in their employees’ skills will help them continue to thrive. The LEP is committed to consulting with employers through events like this Skills Summit, gaining insights into the skills they actually need and helping us develop a skills strategy that is targeted to the needs of Hertfordshire’s large number of thriving businesses.”

Councillor Chris Hayward, Hertfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Education and Skills said: “One of our key priorities at Hertfordshire County Council is to support a strong, resilient and successful local economy. We have some great strengths in life sciences, research and development, and high tech businesses, but the jobs and skills market is changing significantly and we find a mismatch between the supply of employees and demands of employers. This Summit provides an excellent opportunity to share ideas and develop a roadmap to a skills strategy for Hertfordshire.”

Please click here to see the slides.