‘We must plug skills gap to boost our economy’

Clifton Buying Group at the Biba's at Blackpool Tower Ballroom
Clifton Buying Group at the Biba's at Blackpool Tower Ballroom
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Ensuring Lancashire has the skills it needs to drive its economy is crucial if it is to continue to thrive, according to the head of one of its top colleges.

Dr Lis Smith, Principal and Chief Executive at Preston’s College, said there had been a rise in the number of firms having difficulty recruiting when compared with the end of 2016.

The Quarterly Economic Survey, conducted by the county’s three Chambers of Commerce, showed this trend was led by the manufacturing sector with 65 per cent of businesses struggling to fill roles with manual and technical requirements.

Preston’s College is sponsoring the Employer of the Year category at this year’s Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs, which gets under way with its second round of judging next week.

Dr Smith said: “The research shows that almost half of businesses in Lancashire are looking to recruit, they just cannot find the right skills.

“In this latest study it is manufacturers which are finding it hardest but we know service businesses are finding it equally difficult to find the right people. That’s why we built and equipped our £13m iSTEM Education & Training Centre and why we continue to invest in areas like accountancy, recently winning a national award from AAT.

“In construction and engineering, 36,000 new workers are needed every year just to cover the deficit, so it is up to us in the education sector to do all we can to support businesses.”

Preston’s College works alongside businesses through its ROI Solutions team, delivering bespoke training, apprenticeships, professional development programmes, e-learning and higher education courses.

The BIBAs awardd night will be held at Blackpool Tower in September.

Tickets are selling fast, organisers have revealed.