Tag: creative industries

Skills in Birmingham – our people, what they’re like and what we need

Two tins of peas
Great Value(s) P(l)eas(e) - photo by Tony Crider (click to view on flickr)

Later this month the Birmingham and Solihull LEP will start making some decisions about skills and work – asking themselves what skills do employers need and how to make them available.

I know this because of a set of “skills” that are hard to measure or teach.

One is being networked.

Peter Latchford (who’s doing some initial work for the LEP on skills) approached me to see what I thought businesses like Podnosh will need. On 30th January he’ll report back and tell the LEP what small business is asking for. So this is what I’d like them to hear:

Podnosh recruits for?


We are driven by making things better: improving public services, helping active citizens have a greater impact, allowing individual civil servants more freedom to improve lives, supporting good third sector organisations to help more people. We don’t work with anyone – if potential clients don’t share a good chunk of our passions or values we’d rather they found someone else to help them.

So for this we employ or work with people who:

  • believe in what we do
  • care about it
  • are accountable
  • transparent
  • honest
  • have integrity
  • are networked

In turn they often know what they want and believe in and are leaders in their own worlds.

They are usually enterprising: Steph Jennings runs her own hyperlocal blog, Josh Hart makes LIVEBrum happen, Gavin Wray has nurtured the Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery for years. They make things happen, adapt to change, accept and learn from failure.

On top of that they are flexible and committed. All seem to have an unstoppable ability to make things work, see things through and to learn everything and anything they need to make that happen.

So we also want to find people who start things themselves (not the same as self starters), can’t help but learn on their own, aware of their strengths and happy to be open about what they want to strengthen.

It may sound like a halcyon world of small enterprise. But these are the people who work at, or with, Podnosh and they all have remarkable qualities (and if it sounds like I’m expecting them to be superhuman I’m not, I could never keep up).

One thing I haven’t mentioned? A certificate in anything.

Certainly there are technical skills and we are looking for more folk who are good at Ruby on Rails, but in our world many technical skills get outdated very quickly. So at it’s simplest we recruit the person, get that right and the knowledge later.

What do you recruit for – what does the LEP need to understand are the skills or qualities we need to help Birmingham’s small businesses thrive?


Karl Binder at Adhere added these thoughts to the discussion in his post “Total Business”:

So I look for:

  • Aptitude, a readiness and quickness in learning
  • Love what they do, have a passion for their job
  • Flexibility
  • Desire to continually try something new
  • Recognition that their job role can and will change
  • Existing skill set

If I had to sum up my employment strategy in a catchy little sound bite I would say I always looked to ’employ people, rather than skills’. This effectively means if the person’s attitude is right, they have a willingness to learn and an ability to do so, don’t get disheartened and give up quickly and realise that their role is one that is constantly evolving, I would employ them over someone who was the finished product in one particular area of expertise.

Thanks Karl.