They attended a dinner to launch the new Colleges Mean Business prospectus produced by growth delivery agency the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership.
The document outlines the commitment of ten FE colleges across the SEMLEP region to deliver the skills required for business growth.
SEMLEP chair Dr Ann Limb told guests at the Skills Celebration Dinner, held at Woburn Abbey’s Sculpture Gallery: “This event and the launch of Colleges Mean Business reinforces the benefits to all growing businesses of engaging with a local college, whether it be finding new talent or upskilling staff, with product research and marketing, with the recruitment of apprentices or as a means to accessing fantastic facilities.”
A recent business survey by SEMLEP found that more than one in three companies face skills gaps among their existing workforce and nearly two thirds have found it difficult to recruit.
“Addressing the skills agenda is vital to our economy,” said Dr Limb.
Milton Keynes College principal and chief executive Dr Julie Mills told guests: “We now want to hear from businesses to better understand business needs and how we can help meet them.”
Her counterpart at Central Bedfordshire College, Ali Hadawi, added: “Colleges have moved on and we now aim to create the offer, the training and qualifications that fit business needs. When you recruit a graduate from one of our colleges, you will not have to spend any more money training them to do the job.”
Pictured: (from left) Michael Davis, chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment & Skills; SEMLEP chief executive Daniel Mouawad; Dr Ann Limb; Dr Julie Mills; Ali Hadawi.