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Ian Mean: Business needs far more life-changers

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By Ian Mean: Business West Gloucestershire director

Business needs far more life-changers to ensure we have enthusiastic employees to boost our economy.

I met some of these life changers recently, but they were not directors of a business.  They are passionate members of the teaching team at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, which was recently recognised by Ofsted for playing  a significant role in developing the region’s skills economy.

As a key partner of the college, Business West was proud to be at the SGS skills conference as we work with government to develop Local Skills Improvement Plans(LSIPs) for our region.

Our aim is the college’s aim too- to put employers at the heart of the skills system  by ensuring that our businesses and our people have the skills tney need to strive and progress.

Enough of worthy words. The skills challenge is all about people and helping them to achieve those skills.

I was blown away by the moving story of one of the SGS learners-Josh.

Emma Tustin told us about their In2Sport programme designed to help those with experience of the criminal justice system and those recovering from addiction. It equips learners with industry recognised qualification in  Level 2 Fitness instructing and Level 3 Personal Training.

“Josh joined us in January 2022-a month after release from prison.” said Emma. ”Josh spent many of his years from 2015 onwards without a stable home life and trapped in a negative cycle.”

He has now got a job in the fitness industry working as a personal trainer, and has even  applied for a job at SGS to become a mentor and trainer for future In2Sport students.

Talking to Josh and getting permission to use his story, I was struck how important it is for us in business to recognise the kind of life changing work that colleges like SGS do with students.

Young people like Josh who were given a second  chance at making their future bright through life changing learning. I have always admired the work of Timpsons, the shoe repairers who target  ex-offenders in their recruitment.

There is a big lesson here for business. We must support colleges like SGS whose work can be life changing for people—just like Josh.

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