WITH companies in Malvern Hills facing increasing skills shortages, Lucart Hygiene Ltd., hosted the Malvern Hills High Growth Company Forum to discuss this challenge which is holding back growth.

Of the local high growth companies present including Lucart, QinetiQ, Metrasens, Smart Box Assistive Technology, Olpro, Charles Faram, JCSys, it was apparent that they alone would be looking to recruit several hundred skilled and technical staff over the next couple of years.

Councillor Beverley Nielsen, economic development portfolio holder for Malvern Hills District Council, who brought together the Forum with support from the MHDC Economic Development team, said: “Hearing from local further and higher education providers it was clear that there is plenty of learning and upskilling capacity in our district served by the Heart of Worcestershire College and Kidderminster College, as well as by New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering (NMITE) based in Hereford which between them were training more than 7,000 students.

“NMITE highlighted their three-year engineering degree course, aimed at developing integrated skills with 35 per cent of course work being provided through team-based learning. They currently they have 102 engineering students with capacity for 450 students.

“Heart of Worcestershire College explained they are the largest FE provider in the region with more than 600 employees across four locations and a client base of 1,384 employers. They have 6,028 students with 756 studying at higher education level and 120 engineering learners, with T Levels commencing in Engineering and Manufacturing from September 2024 (where 20 per cent of the course comprised of a work placement as an essential element), and with Degree Apprenticeships commencing from September 2025.

“Kidderminster College has 1,150 fulltime students, 2k enrolments with 200 staff. A new Green Tech Centre would be opening in September 2024 and they were ranked as the 10th highest college nationally for their apprenticeships.

“Worcestershire LEP highlighted the new Skills Boost funding making available a new grant to upskill employee’s resident in Worcestershire. Where businesses can claim 50 per cnet of upskilling costs back (up to £6,000).

“As students are unaware of many of our businesses and local jobs available to those leaving college, Inspiring Worcestershire provides a great opportunity for employers to engage with hundreds of students and to help close the gap between our tremendous young people and the job opportunities available on the their doorstep.”

Jonny Wilks, managing director of Lucart Hygiene Ltd, which hosted the event, said: “For me, the High Growth Business Forums are more than just meetings; they’re a unique opportunity to really get to grips with the challenges and opportunities local businesses face. They offer practical, actionable support that can make a real difference in growth and improvement.

“Since I’m relatively new to the area, participating in these forums has been incredibly beneficial. It’s not just about raising our business’ profile in the local community; it’s about sharing what we do best, learning from others and opening doors to new possibilities.

“What I like most is how each forum builds on the last. This creates a cycle of continuous improvement, ensuring the forums stay relevant and responsive to our changing needs.
“In this, the Malvern Hills District Council shows its commitment not just to solving immediate problems but to nurturing a supportive, forward-thinking business environment. It feels like we’re all growing together and I’m genuinely excited to be part of that.”