The Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates MS recently joined an expert panel of business and education leaders to debate the challenges and benefits of upskilling and reskilling employees through the pandemic and beyond.

Organised by Chambers Wales, the ‘Investing in your People’ webinar took place on January 27 and was attended by 150 businesses. Attendees were able to participate in the interactive event by submitting questions and completing live polls during the session.

The event poll showed that 84% of businesses who attended have seen an increase in the need for upskilling in their organisation. Chambers Wales are drafting a white paper to present insights and solutions from the event to the Welsh Government.

The event chaired by Louise Casella, Director of the Open University in Wales featured Lorenzo Angelucci, CEO of Transcend Packaging; Dr Louise Bright, Director of Research and Business Engagement at University of South Wales; Professor Brian Morgan, Director of the Creative Leadership and Enterprise Centre at the Cardiff School of Management and Richard Selby, Director and Co-Founder of Pro Steel Engineering.

In his opening remarks Ken Skates MS acknowledged the importance of collaboration between government, business, education and individuals on both a national and regional scale to improve skills in the future.

Ken Skates MS said: “It is important for us to look forward and take time to consider the work of recovery, specifically where the Welsh Government’s focus should be in supporting individuals and the skills that they need in a rapidly changing economic landscape.

“We know that the better people’s skills, the better their chances are of obtaining and securing rewarding employment and for employers, a labour force of skilled and work-ready individuals gives them the chance to innovate, grow and take advantage of new opportunities.”

The debate recognised the need for businesses and educational institutions to adapt to a changing employment landscape, particularly the digital economy. Examples of traditional manufacturing roles expanding to embrace technological skills in order to differentiate from competitors were discussed, as well as how universities can share expertise and research.

Access to training was identified as a particular challenge regarding core skills at both entry and leadership levels as the panellists debated the role of further and higher education institutions versus bespoke in-house training to find the right solution for employees, increasing their engagement and productivity.

Heather Anstey-Myers, CEO of Chambers Wales, said: “We were delighted to host this important debate to provide our members with expert insights from government, business and education.

“The panel’s thoughts and the interactive feedback we received during the event highlighted just how critical upskilling is for businesses to drive innovation and engage employees. Chambers Wales is supporting upskilling by facilitating the link between businesses and educational institutions.”

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.