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Jon Kennard


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Skill Exchange UK launched to promote ‘skill recycling’


Launched today, Skill Exchange UK is an independent, not for profit, organisation developed in conjunction with Leading Employers, ACAS and the TUC.

It provides a simple but highly innovative service aimed at local employer ‘skill recycling’, an efficient and more sensible alternative to skill wastage, by facilitating local placements for under used staff into other firms that can benefit from the ‘loan’ of skilled staff at low cost.

A recent report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that one in three businesses is keeping more staff than needed to avoid losing skills, but would enforce redundancies if economic growth did not return. This highlights the high value that employers place on retaining skilled employees, but clearly as budgets are cut alternatives are needed.
The Skill Exchange Local Hub Programme uses the internet's ‘always open’ networking environment to facilitate connections between ‘member employers’. It provides introductions to employees made available for secondment or for development of careers and skills as well as an easy and safe way to exchange ideas and information. Both employers save by simply sharing the costs of the employee being exchanged.
Skill Exchange UK Chief Executive, Phil Flaxton commented “We have a long term aim of improving productivity and competiveness and creating growth in the workplace through the introduction of a brand new recycling attitude to valuable local resources amongst local businesses.”
Ballymena in Northern Ireland has been chosen to have the first Skill Exchange Hub, which has been funded by local employers including, Michelin Tyres, Wrightbus, JTI, Moy Park, Dunbia and the Northern Regional College.
Ian Paisley the Member of Parliament for North Antrim commented “Skill Exchange UK have created an innovative and game-changing idea that will redefine many of our attitudes to employment and skills.”
Over the next three years a further 100 local skill exchange hubs will be created based on travel to work areas across the UK. This will enable employers to share skills, offer work experience opportunities, share information and practical ideas that will assist capacity issues, improve staff development and retention, allowing more efficient deployment of people and skills.
Employers of any size from any sector will join together to create on line local networks acting as a ‘clearing house’ for good ideas and developing local solutions to local challenges.
The key objectives are to provide local customised skill exchange hubs to:
  • Stop skills wastage and redundancy
  • Develop and share skills locally
  • Generate and exchange new ideas
  • Champion new ways of working
  • Provide development opportunities
Organisations will able to cover short term skill requirements and capacity issues faster and more efficiently by using their online local exchange and even cover maternity/paternity vacancies across the local workforces. 
This will impact on and expand the skills base, improve job markets and job opportunities locally and ultimately nationally. Employers & key Influencers will be creating job opportunities by supporting and sponsoring work experience opportunities, apprenticeships, training and development in the workplace.
In cases where a temporary economic change results in under-utilised employees, then secondment can effectively share or transfer those skilled employees from their employer company to new roles in another company. Salary costs can be shared by both employers through the on line service provided by Local Skill Exchange Hubs.
The Local Skill Exchange Hub Programme will operate across all industry sectors to provide employer members ways to cut costs but retain their key staff by lending or renting them out to other firms and sharing the costs. At the same time substantial benefit will flow up and down the supply chains as skills and experience develop, knowledge transfer takes place and information and best practice are genuinely shared.
This initiative fits well with the work of the Sector Skills Councils, Schools, Further Education and Higher Education, all of whom are keen to have a much more joined up approach to providing work experience places on a systematic and organised basis that will help to deliver students to the work place with appropriate skills and experience to take a place in the workforce.

Author Profile Picture
Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard

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