Worlds of Opportunity programme set to inspire, recruit and upskill talent in Berkshire

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Worlds of Opportunity programme set to inspire, recruit and upskill talent in Berkshire

17 July 2017


A network of educators, local enterprise and business partners have launched a major initiative to attract, recruit and upskill the talent that Berkshire’s employers desperately need to remain innovative and competitive.

Berkshire suffers major shortages in jobs that require science, maths, engineering or technology qualifications. 27% of all jobs in Berkshire are in these fields. 1 in 10 jobs is in digital technology – three times higher than the national average.

Berkshire has 42,000 employers looking for these specialist skills. Many report that they struggle to fill vacancies, particularly for jobs in health, energy and the environment.

The programme entitled WOOP (Worlds of Opportunity), as well as promoting opportunities and seeking talent, it will also help ensure that education and training programmes keep pace with employers’ needs.

Bracknell & Wokingham College have held two science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) events so far, the first event included: advice to the general public on apprenticeships and careers in STEM subjects, involving local employers who were on hand to offer help and guidance. The second event being a WOOP welcome day to discuss the range of courses available within the College with a particular focus on STEM. This gave people the opportunity to find out about STEM through various activities and workshops.

Underpinned by a strategic review, completed by the Institute of Employment Research at Warwick University in March, and a comprehensive Skills Priority Statement, published in December 2016 by Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVBLEP). The LEP is also a key stakeholder in WOOP. Both of these things help to ensure that the WOOP network has a clear brief for its programme.

Women returners

WOOP events are a key element, showcasing job and training opportunities across Berkshire for people of all ages. Some events will be for students, but there will be many that are open to the public. Programme Manager Carly Grimster says that WOOP also hopes to attract people who may not have considered a career in these specialist fields, including women returning to work after a career break, or people who are underemployed and willing to take on new challenge.

Work placements with local employers are on offer through WOOP to students or graduates of all ages who have a Level 3 or higher science, technology, engineering or maths qualification. “A work placement is an excellent way to discover Berkshire’s real world of opportunity. It can be a way for mature candidates to explore new career options or to retrain, as well as giving young people a taster and a boost to their CV. Work experience often leads to a permanent job,” Carly says.

Bracknell & Wokingham College are looking for work placements for those interested in finding more out about careers in science, technology, engineering or maths occupations. 

WOOP has a wide network of Berkshire employers who are keen to recruit from their local talent pool and build their network of like-minded professionals. Many of them nominate ambassadors to take part in events, set up work placements and generally inspire and educate the local community about the opportunities that exist.

The WOOP network includes Bracknell & Wokingham, Reading, Newbury and East Berkshire Colleges, Central Berkshire Education Business Partnership, Learning to Work and other specialist organisations such as WISE and STEM Learning.

Adviza welcomes any organisations interested in getting involved. Please email or contact one of the partners.

The origins of the programme lie in the Gearing up for STEM campaign, which secured ESF funding from the Skills Funding Agency. It was created to help to challenge the narrow perceptions that many people hold about careers in STEM subjects. 



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