Competency as important as skills in boosting productivity

Posted on 5 Jan 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Manufacturers should be focusing on more than just the skills gap if they want to save their businesses thousands of pounds in poor productivity, according to the boss of In-Comm Training and Business Services.

The managing director of In-Comm Training and Business Services, Gareth Jones feels firms should be paying greater attention to bridging the ‘competency gap’ if they are going to develop the next generation of employees, rather than concentrating solely on skills.

Jones cited the importance of showing young people how the skills and knowledge they are learning can be applied on the shop floor, something which relies on providing access to industry experience.

Gareth Jones, managing director, In-Comm Training and Business Services.
Gareth Jones, managing director, In-Comm Training and Business Services.

He explained: “All we constantly hear about is bridging the skills gap and, while we should start there, we should be ensuring they go on to the next level. There is no substitute for showing apprentices how the attributes they are gaining can be used to improve efficiencies, come up with new solutions or meet Just-in-Time deliveries.

“And that is where experienced trainers come into their own, trainers who have been experts in their field and want to pass some of that knowledge, experience and common sense down to the next generation.”

The business has just recruited another three trainers to help with expansion at its academies in the Black Country and Shropshire, taking the total number to 18. With a combined 330-years’ experience, the team has worked across almost every manufacturing sector, from automotive and aerospace to food and pharmaceutical.

The past 12 months were a major year of growth for In-Comm, with more than £700,000 invested into its academies in Aldridge and Shrewsbury in order to support over 450 learners to complete Intermediate, Advanced and Higher qualifications.

The money has been channelled into equipping the workshops with new lathes and milling machines, CNC capabilities, a new electrical section, and an increased number of MIG/TIG/MAA welding stations. Two new design centres have also been created, including the integration of the latest CAD/CAM software.

Jones added: “We are playing an integral role in roll-out of the new Marches Centre for Manufacturing Technology [MCMT] in Bridgnorth, a £3m-plus project that has been supported by the Marches LEP and will cater for over 2,020 apprentices and learners by 2020.

“This is a really bold step and one that brings together a consortium of partners including ourselves, Grainger & Worrall, Classic Motor Cars and Salop Design & Engineering. The LEP listened to what employers wanted and, through the Government Skills Capital Initiative, are letting us drive the provision. It has the potential to bridge the competency gap that so much of industry is simply not paying attention to.”