30 August 2023 | Our Work

View from the top: Tackling the skills shortage

With the summer break about to end and the new academic year about to start, my first ‘View from the Top’ will be focused on the work that LCRIG is doing to tackle the skills shortage in the sector.

Tackling the skills shortage is something that we are passionate about, and since we launched LCRIG Skills (our online training platform) almost 12 months ago, I’ve become more involved in this area. What started as a project to build a simple database to provide a shop window to sector relevant, affordable training, has turned into an opportunity to do so much more to support the skills agenda across the sector.

With the new academic year about to start, Salford City College are busy with the final preparations to their newly created Highways Skills Training Academy, as they get ready to welcome the first cohort of apprentices on to the Highways Operative course. LCRIG have been working in partnership with the college and Salford City Council to get this new apprenticeship off the ground, and for me it’s been the most rewarding project this year. You may have seen our requests for support in previous issues of our LCRIG Insight, and the willingness from the sector to donate time, equipment, and materials to help make this programme a success has been truly amazing.

We still have requirements for support, with the two main items being a cabin for the students to use for their lessons, and the construction of a 15m x 3m road surface in the outdoor practical area. LCRIG have committed to purchasing a cabin that will be donated to the college and we are looking for organisations who may be able to support with the road surface. When the course starts in October, we’ll be recognising all organisations who have contributed to the success of this important project.

There are still opportunities for apprentice places on the course, so please do get in touch if this is something that may be of interest to you.

Over the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to a number of individuals and organisations. One thing that has really resonated with me, is that there are so many inspiring initiatives taking place that tackle the challenges the sector faces, not only in bringing in new employees, but also in the retention and development of employees.

A common theme is that these great initiatives are not always widely shared across our highways community, and they are being carried out in isolation. To help tackle this, we have introduced two new awards at the DfT Special Recognition Awards that are held at Strictly Highways in October. We want to shine a spotlight on outstanding apprentices working in the sector, and organisations who are doing great things to support employment opportunities. If you’d like to nominate a colleague, project, or initiative for an award, you can submit your entries here.

The next round of development of LCRIG Skills is also imminent, and there are plans to provide a central area that will showcase the initiatives that are being developed around Skills. The LCRIG community is a great place to share information and learning experiences and we plan to extend this out more widely as we continue to do more to support skills and employment initiatives.

There’s no doubt that the skills shortage facing the sector is huge and sometimes, even the number of opportunities to make changes can feel overwhelming. However, the collaboration at Salford is a fantastic example of how bringing the sector together, and by sharing experiences, we can start to make a difference.

If you’d like to share your experience of an initiative that you have worked on in this area, or if you have plans to start a project, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at [email protected].