The Foundation’s powerful ‘back story’ has been heard by the region’s business leaders at a debate spearheaded by Yorkshire Business Insider which centred on solving the region’s skills shortage.
Adam Walsh, director of The Right Fuelcard Company (TRFC) who runs the Foundation, was invited to take part in the discussion on how finding people with the right skills remains a significant challenge despite efforts by local and national government to help companies to address the problem.
The challenges have been reinforced in a skills survey conducted by Yorkshire Business Insider in which almost 60 per cent of respondents said it was “hard or impossible” to find skilled employees.
Kicking off the discussion at Call Credit offices in Park Row in Leeds, Adam outlined how TRFC – working with BE Fuel Cards – had tackled the issue of finding good apprentices by launching its own dedicated training and development foundation.
Explains Adam: “Setting this up has been a bold and challenging step for us – but it is now a really important part of our growth plans and is starting to pay dividends. Our ethos is that we can teach anyone to sell if they really want to learn how to do it. But we ensure that our people graduate when they are ready for a sales job, not when we dictate that the course has finished.
“Our longer-term placements help us to identify the people with the right attitude and the right potential, and people we would not previously have given opportunities to in the past are now working in our business. It has been a ‘win-win’, and they are adding value from the first week.”
Fellow panelists in the debate hosted by Jim Pendrill were Aaron McIver, training manager at Hull-based engineering business The Spencer Group and Matt Smith, training manager at Nestle’s York factory.
Conclusions from the discussion included the increasing importance of integration between schools, education institutes and businesses to identify and develop the skills in young people to make them ready for the world of work – and how such ‘win win’ partnerships will help plug the skills gap among future generations.
Adds Adam: “Companies need to be more flexible to help bridge the skills shortfalls among the current generation. TRFC, Nestle and The Spencer Group are good examples of how this can be achieved. It’s vital that companies forge powerful partnerships and lead the way in best practice in tackling this issue.
“There is a wealth of talent and potential in the group of people with a perceived ‘lack of skills’; our job as businesses leaders is to create environments within our businesses that help those people reach their potential.”