by Ben Francis, Policy Chair, FSB Wales
In the world of business, one golden rule stands true: learning never stops. As the Wales Policy Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses in Wales, the director of a family-owned house building company and a Governor of Coleg Sir Gar, I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I’m proud to endorse and support Adult Learners’ Week 2023, a celebration of lifelong learning and the pursuit of knowledge and skills that knows no age limit.
Adult Learners’ Week 2023 is more than just a week on the calendar; it’s an acknowledgment of the remarkable journeys of adult learners. This week is a chance for all learners to showcase their dedication to self-improvement, regardless of the challenges and responsibilities life throws at them.
During this week, we applaud adult learners who balance work, family, and personal commitments while pursuing further education. It’s a testament to their determination and a reminder that it’s never too late to embark on a learning journey.
At FSB, we are proud to support Adult Learners’ Week 2023. We recognize that skills are the lifeblood of SMEs in Wales and across the country. In our recent report, “Scaling Up Skills” we uncovered a staggering statistic: 78% of firms in the United Kingdom struggled to recruit in the last 12 months. Of this number, over half (82%) couldn’t appoint because of a mismatch in the skills, qualifications and experience needed to do the job.
This has a huge impact on other staff, their workload, and the overall success of the company. Successful and growing small businesses are essential to the UK’s economic success. Only when business owners and their staff are equipped with the right skills can their enterprise grow. That’s why meeting the skills needs of small businesses is a key part of having a productive and growing economy.
FSB Wales is currently undertaking research into the future of skills in Wales, which will be published in the coming months. This new piece of work will provide a deep dive into the experiences of real small businesses across Wales and highlight the reality of the barriers and opportunities in their way. It is crucial that we evaluate how we can support individuals to develop the skills they require for successful careers, and ones that businesses require now and in the future. It is only by having a full picture of the challenges that we can properly address them.
In the meantime, FSB has a dedicated skills hub, to support small business owners in building skilled teams in whatever sector they’re in. It has free advice and guidance to help SMEs engage with education providers, train new talent and recruit staff.
Through our advocacy and membership offer, we encourage and support businesses to invest in training and development, not just for the benefit of the company but for the growth and well-being of their employees. We believe that by fostering a culture of lifelong learning, we can build a stronger, more resilient business community in Wales and beyond.
As we celebrate Adult Learners’ Week 2023, I hope that you will join us in collectively embracing the power of learning. It’s not just a personal journey, it’s the cornerstone of a thriving economy and a prosperous nation. Together, we can shape a brighter future, where the pursuit of knowledge and skills knows no bounds.