Project helps businesses focus on leadership skills development

Leadership Skills development
Leadership Skills development
04 December 2008

 Business & Learning Connections, based at Aston University, is a Birmingham based project which has worked with more than 125 businesses across the West Midlands. It has now partnered with one of the region’s major employers to focus on development leadership skills - in particular from within its existing workforce.

The project uses multi-media techniques to produce video and audio material to capture business expertise for learning purposes and also uses its links with business to promote skills initiatives.

Its most recent collaboration has been with National Express, the transport provider based in Edgbaston, and GoSkills, the region’s transport-focused sector skills council.

Business & Learning Connections, which is funded by Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency, has worked with National Express to produce a DVD, the focus of which demonstrates the benefits to businesses enabling the “upskilling” of their existing workforce as well as recruiting from outside.  The DVD highlights a number of examples of National Express staff who have been encouraged to take up training and development opportunities through a leadership skills programme which has given them confidence in their ability and enthused others to consider their own development potential.

The National Express programme has involved staff such as drivers, mechanics and administration personnel going on to become team leaders or line managers.  The leadership development programme covers subjects such as time management, personal development programmes, interview techniques and presentation skills amongst others.

National Express Group chief executive Richard Bowker said: “We have been able to equip our managers with a growing range of leadership skills helping to take the business forward.  We have seen a huge change in people’s confidence and motivation because of this programme.  The DVD is a perfect way to illustrate some real life examples of how we are continuing to develop and grow our business through our people.  I hope it inspires other companies to get involved.”

Business & Learning Connections project manager Joe McConnell said businesses across the West Midlands had continued to engage positively with the project.  The skills challenges and encouraging the development of talent had been the “common denominator” which ran through the video and multi-media products which had been produced.

Pat Jackson, Director of Skills at Advantage West Midlands said: “We need to work harder than ever to ensure our regional workforce is skilled in the face of rising competition, both nationally and globally.  Businesses that continue to invest in new products and services and in the skills of their people will be more able to withstand the enormous challenges of the current economic climate.  They will be ready for the upturn.

“I’m pleased to say there are encouraging signs of progress in the West Midlands with greater numbers of our firms committed to the training and development of their staff.

“The video promoting the Leadership and Management Programme demonstrates the real business advantages of leadership and management training for senior business executives looking to expand and grow their own companies.

“The case study provided by National Express provides another crucial real world example and perspective to help reinforce the benefits to companies of investing more and more in the development of their most valuable assets – their employees.”

Business & Learning Connections has also produced a DVD promoting Advantage West Midlands and Business Link’s Leadership and Management programme. This programme focuses on the advantage to businesses of investing in their own senior management abilities and skills needs. The DVD highlights the progress made by one such company (Listers of Stoke on Trent) who participated in the pilot programme for the scheme which is now up and running across the region.

Each of the DVDs can be viewed on a Business & Learning Connections website  The latest initiative has also been supported by Go Skills, an employer-led organisation which works to improve the skills that make a difference to the performance of the passenger transport sector.

For further press information please contact Sally Finn on 0121 204 4552. If you are interested in finding out more about Business & Learning Connections please contact Joe McConnell on 0121 204 4230.

Pictured are from left to right: John Bailey, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Business Partnerships & Knowledge Transfer at Aston University, Mick Laverty, Chief Executive AWM, and Richard Bowker CBE, Group Chief Executive, National Express Ltd (no tie).