HIGH growth companies in Malvern Hills have been meeting to tackle the shortage of skills in business.

Some of these businesses have recently come together through a High Growth Company Forum which has been put together by Beverley Nielsen, councillor for Great Malvern at Malvern Hills District Council.

Cllr Nielsen, portfolio holder for economic development at Malvern Hills District Council, said: “High growth companies are important for the Malvern Hills and UK economy.”

High growth companies in Malvern Hills cover a range of sectors, sizes and ages and include, amongst others, a diverse range of businesses, such as, Smartbox Assistive Technology, Lucart Hygiene, Athena Work Surfaces, Indra Renewable Technologies, ZX Lidars, Malvern Panalytical, HDAnywhere, Olpro, QinetiQ, Morgan Cars, English Braids and Metrasens.

Cllr Nielson said: “A recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report, ‘Understanding Firm Growth: Helping Small and Medium Enterprises Scale Up’ showed that more than half of all new jobs are created by SMEs scaling up. On average they have been shown to employ 30-50 per cent more IT specialists, 15 per cent more research and development staff, 15-20 per cent more staff with a master’s degree and pay over the odds for comparable workers.

“High growth companies came together through this new forum for the first-time last December and identified key issues holding back growth. The top issue, identified by more than 80 per cent of the businesses attending, is the skills shortages confronting business. Their second biggest challenge is the shortage of suitable commercial space required for their planned development and thirdly, the capital required to invest to make scaling up possible.

“Given these skills shortages I am keen to close the loop by bringing together our high growth companies and putting them directly in contact with our skills providers to help them gain a clearer understanding of ways of accessing talent directly and linking into the wonderful young people in our area.

“As a result, I have arranged presentations by our local colleges at the next meeting of our new High Growth Company forum being held on March 21, from 4.30-6.30pm and kindly hosted by Jonny Wilks, managing director at Lucart Hygiene. I would like to thank him and our colleges for their enthusiastic support.”

The agenda includes a presentation from NMITE, the new Hereford-based institute offering innovative university education. They will provide insights into their Engineering and Built Environment degrees gained through collaborative projects with partner employers to provide high quality work-ready graduates.

Brett O’Reilly, Vice Principal of Kidderminster College will present on ‘Sustainable Skills for Business’, whilst Michelle Dowse, the recently appointed Principal at Heart of Worcestershire College, will be joined by her colleagues Emma Hunt, James Duckhouse and Simon Kibble, who will together share their insights into the college’s business engagement across sectors, their plans for the future and how employers can work with them.

The meeting will also welcome Judy Gibbs, head of service skills and investment & Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership; director of skills, people directorate, Worcestershire County Council, who will outline the new Skills Boost programme available to employers.