Meet Bev Wallman – our new Skills Broker
Bev joins us from Steadfast Training, where she has worked on various skills development projects across the New Anglia region in recent years. She is passionate about helping people gain the skills they need to develop rewarding careers. She is also keen to support businesses that want to improve their productivity and growth prospects by upskilling employees.
Tell us a bit about your business background and the careers tips you have learned
I was born in London but grew up in Essex, where I still live. I started in hairdressing but realised it was not for me so went to work in Corfu. I lived there for three years, working first for a car hire company and then as a holiday rep – it was a fantastic experience.
My first piece of careers advice to young people is to grab any opportunity you can to work abroad. It’s a great way to develop independence, resilience and experience of different cultures. You might have to learn how to live off Marmite crackers while you are waiting to get paid – but you will have a great time.
On my return to the UK, I got into sales. This led to my entire career revolving around promoting and advising on training programmes across multiple sectors. I’ve covered everything from employability skills, through sector specific skills, to the so-called ‘soft skills’ of customer service and management.
My second piece of careers advice is to develop your soft skills – because they are the hardest to get right but matter in every industry. I’ve worked across many sectors, including IT, health and social care, construction, hospitality and logistics. They have all benefitted from developing managerial talent and excellent customer relationships.
Since 2004, I have run numerous projects for various training companies. For the last five years, I’ve been the European Social Funds Relationship Manager with Steadfast Training. This involved delivering skills initiatives in Norfolk and Suffolk, most recently ‘Skills Support for the Workforce’.
My role involved liaising with businesses to discuss their training needs and signposting them to specific providers or arranging for Steadfast to deliver the training. I got to work with the county and district councils in Norfolk and Suffolk, as well as the New Anglia Growth Hub team and sector partners.
My third piece of careers advice is to get experience across sectors and departments. I love the variety of people I engage with and support, from business owners and individual learners to policy advisers and local councillors. It’s really motivating and satisfying to know you are providing valuable support, information and guidance that can help people and companies develop, succeed and grow.
You recently joined New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership as a Skills Broker – what does that involve?
I am responsible for delivering the new Skills Bootcamps, which are part of the Government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee to help everyone gains skills for life. I will be supporting local companies who want to retain talent by upskilling their current employees, so they progress within the business rather than leaving. I will also be working closely with our seven specialist providers who will be running specific Skills Bootcamps in IT, Construction, Logistics, Domestic Retrofit and Green Skills.
How much does it cost, how long does it take and how will people benefit?
New Anglia LEP, working with Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils, won £1m in government funding to deliver these Skills Bootcamps to 240 learners over the six months from September 2022 to March 2023. These short, intensive training courses last from around 60 hours to 16 weeks and will involve a mix of in-person and online learning – depending on the work. Learners will receive a certificate of completion, which all helps with their employability.
It’s important to remember these are free to individual learners and open to anyone aged 19+, so long as they have the right to live and work in the UK. They are for employees but also the unemployed, those returning to work, and the self-employed looking to diversify. We will even guarantee the unemployed an interview at the end with a local employer.
Skills Bootcamps will give people new skills to enter a sector and enhance existing skills to support career progression or win new contracts. They are heavily subsidised to encourage take up, so SMEs will pay just 10% for training their employees, which is exceptional value for money. Larger companies will pay 30% but that’s still a significant discount.
Why should businesses get involved?
New Anglia LEP has consulted with industry to identify sectors with significant skills gaps that are struggling to fill vacancies. These Skills Bootcamps will help them recruit from within, while strengthening our local labour market. Employees will not only gain new skills but also grow in confidence and self-esteem.
In short, this training can transform your company culture by helping you grow your people and your business. It’s particularly important in companies with an aging workforce as it helps build and retain skills, knowledge and experience in the next generation. Above all, engaged employees tend to be happy and productive, which is good for their pay and your profits.
Watch out for further information about our forthcoming Skills Bootcamps programme.