Salisbury’s Wiltshire Business Expo on 21 April saw the launch in this area of Higher Futures, a new university level education service for people in Swindon and Wiltshire.
Led by the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP), Higher Futures is a skills development programme aimed at ensuring the workforce in Swindon and Wiltshire is able to gain higher level skills and qualifications (NVQ level 4, HND, Degree and above). It offers employers specialist impartial support and advice to identify their skills needs and gaps, and develop tailored training solutions with universities and colleges. Business led with a focus on military leavers, the programme has kicked off with support from some of the top companies in the area, including Nationwide Building Society and Porton Biopharma. Higher Futures is being delivered jointly by Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council.
Naomi Radley a Lead Product Manager at Nationwide is one of a cohort of learners who took part in the pilot scheme studying for a regulated diploma in Financial Planning (level 4). She said ‘This programme of study is highly relevant as it addresses real life situations. The course is part-time which means it fits in with my other commitments and the learning environment is completely inclusive and therefore suited to people who perhaps haven’t studied for some time.”
Paddy Bradley, SWLEP Director said “The Higher Futures programme is about ensuring Swindon and Wiltshire get ahead of the national skills deficit curve by improving access to higher education so we have a workforce that provides a competitive advantage and is fit for the future.”
Jointly responsible for delivering the Higher Futures programme are Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council.
Higher Futures is delivered by Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council on behalf of Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership
Sally Burnett, Skills and Employment Lead at Swindon Borough Council said “In a recent survey by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills it was found that 14% of establishments in Swindon and Wiltshire experienced skills gaps, where staff are deemed not fully proficient in their role. Training up the existing workforce, focusing on higher level skills and also focusing on the military to fill the skills gap makes perfect sense.”
Baroness Scott of Bybrook OBE, Leader of Wiltshire Council said “We are committed to boosting our local economy and this targeted programme, which raises skills and provides tailor made solutions to match employers’ needs, is an excellent way to achieve this. Wiltshire is fortunate to have a large military presence and this initiative will also encourage and support our military leavers to transfer their excellent skills to the local economy and have the opportunity for further training.”