Launch of new university level skills service

By Anita Jaynes on 27 June, 2016

A new initiative set to up-skill our region’s workforce has landed in Swindon and Wiltshire.

Higher Futures is a skills development service aimed at ensuring our workforce is able to gain access to higher level skills and qualifications (NVQ Level4, HND/ Degree and above). It provides specialist impartial advice to employers in identifying skills needs, plus access to a free brokerage service created to develop bespoke training solutions with universities and colleges. Business led with a focus on military leavers, the programme has kicked off with support from some of the top companies in the area, including Nationwide and Porton Biopharma.

It is a unique service and the first of its kind in the country, led by Swindon and Wiltshire Local Economic Partnership (SWLEP). It has been created to fill the gap in higher education options locally as Swindon and Wiltshire is the only LEP area in England that does not have a university campus.

Five priority sectors have been identified, advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences, digital technology, financial services and business services, but the service is not constrained to these areas and the Higher Futures team are keen to have conversations with other sectors and industries.

Higher Futures will have a focus on working with military leavers as the county hosts the greatest concentration of army resources in the country. Service leavers represent an attractive group of future employees and this is an additional route for employers to access a qualified local workforce. Many military leavers do not hold higher level qualifications recognised in the civilian world and this is where Higher Futures can help.

Higher Futures manager Mandy Timbrell said: “This exciting initiative is a great step forward for Swindon and Wiltshire. The service is entirely flexible and bespoke to meet employees and employers needs. By providing higher educational qualifications in this way we can break down the barriers and people’s fears of learning and for the first time we can offer formal degree level accreditations for people that have worked their way up in a business.

“We are working with universities and specialist education centres nationally to design and develop the most suitable learning offer to meet local business needs. Until January 2017 our brokering service is free, so we urge anyone thinking about access to learning to get in touch, you have nothing to lose.

“We are inviting employers to engage with us and share their skills gaps and shortages. We will then work with them to co-design the most cost effective package for their business.”

To find out more about Higher Futures email: or visit: or call: 01225 756174