Further Education (FE) providers across the West Midlands and Warwickshire (WMW) have joined forces with Whitecap Consulting to unveil the "Your Business is Our Business: Employer Skills Report." 

This study builds on the work in the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) and sheds light on the current skills landscape in priority sectors, providing crucial insights to inform strategic planning and the future curriculum of FE providers.  

Whitecap Consulting was appointed by the WMW FE providers to assess the skills requirements across the region in the Construction, Engineering and Manufacturing, Digital and ICT and Logistics and Distribution sectors. The Whitecap team conducted a comprehensive analysis through curriculum mapping, extensive desk research and in-depth stakeholder interviews to understand the skills shortages and challenges faced by employers. 

The findings of the report not only highlight existing skill gaps but also offer actionable recommendations to address these gaps, serving as a foundational resource for stakeholders to collaboratively design and implement targeted interventions that align with the evolving needs of the regional economy. 

Suzie Branch-Haddow of Birmingham Metropolitan College and lead project manager of Skills West Midlands and Warwickshire said: 

“The insight report from Whitecap Consulting provides comprehensive analysis on the four priority growth sectors with mapping of the entire curriculum in these areas and in-depth 1-1 discussions with decision-makers across a range of employers. It spells out where there are acute labour and skills shortages, which industries face the challenge of ageing workforces and highlights the issue of poorly equipped entry level recruits who struggle with ‘soft’ and essential skills. 

The Local Skills Improvement Plan published in 2023 revealed around 74% of regional employers had not worked with post-16 education and training providers in the last five years. Around 90% of employers in Whitecap’s latest research said they want to know more about what the sector can offer and showed a clear appetite to be more involved in shaping training provision.  

This latest stage of the Plan’s delivery aims to answer the call in Whitecap’s research for a streamlined and effective single point of engagement, with a united brand and website.” 

Lal Tawney, Director at Whitecap Consulting said: 

“Our report clearly outlines the opportunities and challenges for the four priority sectors in the West Midlands and Warwickshire, alongside specific strategic and tactical recommendations.  

It is hugely satisfying that to be key to the launch of Skills West Midlands and Warwickshire  – a concrete step towards realising the “one stop shop” recommendation put forth in our analysis. This initiative embodies the collaborative spirit that’s crucial for success. By fostering partnerships between employers, educators, and training providers, Skills West Midlands and Warwickshire can ensure that the skills offered are directly aligned with the region’s needs. This collaborative approach is not just an ideal, it’s the cornerstone of building a future where regional employers have access to a skilled workforce.” 

Download the Skills WMW Employer Skills Report.

Established in 2012, Whitecap Consulting is a regional strategy consultancy headquartered in Leeds, with offices in Manchester, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Bristol and Newcastle. We typically work with boards, executives and investors of predominantly mid-sized organisations with a turnover of c£10m-£300m, helping clients analyse, develop and implement growth strategies. Also, we work with clients across a range of sectors including Financial Services, Technology, FinTech, Outsourcing, Consumer and Retail, Property, Healthcare, Higher Education, Manufacturing, Logistics and Professional Services, including Corporate Finance and PE.