Learning new skills for the future
Metro Mayor Dan Norris writes for the Voice
WHEN I was growing up my grandfather and uncles were miners, my aunt was a factory worker, and my uncle worked on the railways – and that was that.
In those days many people spent their whole life working in the same job, for the same employer. It was how it was.
Over the years that’s changed. I had a range of roles before becoming metro mayor: a child protection officer, an environment minister and a scaffolder’s assistant.
For children growing up today it will be even more varied, so it is important they always have the opportunity to reskill and retrain. A child born today will have seven or eight different careers in their lifetime, and two-thirds of children entering primary school this year will ultimately work in completely new types of jobs that simply don’t exist yet!
Skills and training are an exciting part of my metro mayor role. Recently I opened two fantastic new facilities with funding from the West of England Combined Authority that I lead: the Brunel Centre on the SGS WISE Campus in Stoke Gifford and the City of Bristol College Advanced Construction Skills Centre.
The Brunel Centre is a particularly stunning £7 million building, with a great name. I know the next generation of world leading engineers, scientists, technicians and creatives are raring to go there – I could sense everyone’s enthusiasm as I cut the ribbon.
Meanwhile in Bristol I met Owen, who is doing a carpentry course, learning what’s needed to build a better future – literally! He is getting equipped with skills to build new homes and retrofit existing ones in our cities, towns and villages.
But it’s not just about young people. I met MakeUK, the manufacturers organisation, as they launched their plan for skills. They explained to me how the average age of people working in manufacturing is over 50 – but they also need to reskill as new manufacturing techniques and machinery emerge. Lifelong learning matters.
Here in the West of England we’re at the forefront of innovation, and we need to keep it that way. Our brilliant locally-based scientists, researchers and engineers hold so many of keys to meeting important challenges of tomorrow.
That includes those working in highly skilled unionised jobs at Airbus in Filton who I met earlier this month and whom Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer gave a shout-out to in his recent conference speech.
We have just passed a significant landmark on skills funding. We have a special scheme here in the West of England to stop money raised by local companies via the “apprenticeship levy” disappearing up the M4 and being banked by the government. Instead we are keeping it local, with bigger firms passing their unspent levy money to smaller local ones. We’ve just passed £1 million – a great collective effort. So thanks a million to all involved!
Picture: Dan Norris at the City of Bristol College Advanced Construction Skills Centre.