People & Skills Projects - 12 December 2014

Developing next generation of leaders in UK manufacturing, construction, and legal sectors

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has announced that it is investing over £875,000 in six pilot projects that will develop innovative ways of boosting leadership and management skills in UK businesses.

The projects are designed and led by six organisations from across the UK manufacturing, construction and legal services sectors.

Black Country Consortium Ltd, Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), Robert Woodhead, Action Sustainability, the University of Chester and the Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG) will work with their respective networks and supply chains over the next 12 months. They successfully applied to the UK Futures Programme, a government-backed programme that is looking to encourage innovative employer-led solutions to long-standing or emerging skills issues.

Last week, the UKCES report Growth Through People argued that improving workplace productivity by implementing effective management and leadership practices should be recognised as the key route to increasing pay and prosperity in the UK. Through these projects, UKCEShopes to learn more about what can be achieved when businesses take responsibility for increasing the management capability of their supply chain.

Nigel Whitehead, BAE Systems Group Managing Director and lead Commissioner for the UK Futures Programme competition that UKCES are running, said:

I am really excited about these six projects, which are truly innovative in their plans to work with numerous independent companies in their supply chain to ensure quality management and leadership skills throughout their industry.

At BAE Systems, seventy per cent of our turnover is expressed in our supply chain. Therefore, I recognise how important it is for a company to think about their enterprise as a whole and its critical dependence on its supply chain. Ultimately, BAE’s offering is only as strong as the weakest link in my supply chain.

Giving employers the opportunity to develop their own solutions is so important, as we believe that the people who experience these skill deficiencies directly are best placed to develop solutions. Equally, by trialling six different approaches at the same time we are able to understand what does and doesn’t work in addressing these challenges.

Collaborating with partners, and each other, to implement good management practices will produce more engaged and productive staff, and ensure that the UK’s industries can compete successfully in our global economy.

Research has shown that the UK does not measure up to its international competitors when it comes to management skills due to the presence of a long tail of poorly managed firms. The manufacturing, construction and legal services sectors suffer particularly from skill deficiencies amongst managers and have low levels of high performance working businesses.

Although in the UK 20% of vacancies for managers are not filled due to skill shortages. This figure rises to 26% in manufacturing and 31% in construction. Furthermore, only 9% of manufacturing businesses are considered to be high performance working, followed by 6% in legal services and 4% in construction, compared to 12% of sector-wide UK employers.

UKCES believes that by supporting UK firms to improve this capability, it will ensure that they can deliver products and services at all points in the supply chain and create growth and jobs.

About the six projects:

Robert Woodhead:

Robert Woodhead will demonstrate how SME firms can best influence and develop their supply chain. As such, they have developed a construction industry-specific Business Leadership and Management Support programme called ‘Good to Gold’. Workshops will be held to understand the most effective management and leadership practices, underpinned by work-based qualifications, mapped to industry quality standards.

Black Country Consortium Ltd:

The Black Country Consortium Ltd will deliver a Manufacturing Supply Chain Management programme consisting of ‘bite-sized modules’ for the supply chain at all levels via its innovative Black Country Skills Factory project. The project will offer small and medium-sized businesses the opportunity to improve their operational management and leadership by choosing from a menu of individual bite-sized modules addressing their specific business needs, and then trialling a ‘skills passport’ to record achievement and participation.

Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA):

CECA will carry out research to create a shared understanding of ‘what good looks like’ in terms of management and leadership skills for their sector, involving involve collaborative discussions with leading organisations as well as a series of regional seminars to include supply chain members’ input, culminating in a national Infrastructure Leaders event to present the research outcomes.

Action Sustainability:

Action Sustainability aims to create a world-class on-line supply chain management tool and leadership network, focused on building management and leadership skills in the area of sustainability in the facilities management and infrastructure sectors of the construction industry. The ‘tools’ will be in the format of e-learning modules, skills assessment tools, libraries of learning resources and training videos.

University of Chester:

This project will take current thinking and research into leadership approaches and put them into practice to see how effective they are in different organisations. The findings will be tested on live projects, further developed via a mini leadership convention, and careers fairs will demonstrate the relevance for generation Z. Results will be shared through academic papers and a mobile friendly website.

LAPG will work with legal practitioners, in both private and not-for-profit organisations (mainly SMEs), to address acute management and leadership issues, including balancing high quality legal services with effective business management. LAPG will address the problem of insufficient management training by creating a flexible and affordable modular practice management training resource leading to a recognised accreditation, which can fit around business demands.

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