Jeremy talks about his passion of helping people find work and progress in their careers.
Although it is still early days, there is no doubt that Europe’s largest shopping centre is beginning to make its mark both on shoppers and staff.
Jeremy Nutter, chief executive of Seetec, the company managing the Skills Place Newham, situated at the gateway to Westfield, provides training for the sectors involved involved in the vicinity - retail and hospitality.
And despite the current doom and gloom about the national and international economy, Jeremy is optimistic about the academy and its ability to reach its goals. And he should know. Because the man who was never deemed bright at school and was twice made redundant realised during a lifetime in work that the one thing he had to do was keep his skills up to date.
He said: “My passion is people, my passion is people who have fallen on hard times because even if I have been a successful individual, twice in my career I have been made redundant.
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“One of the things that I have learnt through my journey of life is that redundancy is incredibly difficult for people. Skills development and training and learning are important for moving on and in supporting them in life.
“When I entered business 30 years ago one of the first things I was told was we can’t guarantee you a job for life - that is still the case 30 years on. We have to learn to be able to adapt and move across companies and sectors.
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He said: “I appreciate that things look pretty bleak out there and that times are gloomy. How long things will remain gloomy I don’t know but because I am an optimist I’m bound to say things will get better eventually. That’s why the Skills Place Newham will be successful. So long as we meet the needs of employers and job seekers and the people that are in employment then the Skills Place Newham will be successful, no doubt about it. The challenge for us is making sure that people fully understand and appreciate the value of skills training. I think there is still a way to go on that.
“I was pretty average in terms of O-Levels and A-Levels. I was never deemed to be a “bright kid” but I was a kid who worked hard and had a very supportive family with lots of encouragement from my teachers and parents. That’s why I consider myself fortunate.
“I did a degree in chemistry and even though many aspire to go to university, its not the only way to a career. Its very limiting because its does not give you the practical skills that are so often required today.
“I spent the first 20 years of my career in the oil industry developing news business and working overseas. Again I would consider myself very fortunate as result of that because during those 20 years one of the things that I learnt is that it is absolutely essential to keep your skills up to date. It was the time of telex, we did not have faxes or emails or desktop computers or Microsoft word.
“If I had not kept up to date with the development of IT I would not be able to work for a company that offers IT training as a key offering for its customers.
“I also learnt about the importance of expanding your horizons.
“Even though I started as a chemist, I became a fully qualified marketer and am now a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and because I did that, it allowed me to move around and across sectors and industries and jobs. Its one of the contributing factors for why I am sitting here today as chief executive but I am still learning on a continuous basis.”
“One of the things that scares me is that nationally something like 30 per cent of the adult population has no qualifications.
There are millions of people that do not have a job at the moment and there are millions that have not worked for many many years.There are millions who are trying to get into work and for whatever reason cannot do so.
As an individual that saddens me.
“The company I work for is about trying to give something back to society by giving people opportunities. I’m a great believer in people being able to manage their own affairs.
“With a bit of encouragement, the right commitment and support - the kind that I had from my parents, these people can get qualifications for life, they can have aspirations and hopes- that’s what Seetec is all about.”
He wants the people of Newham and east London to come and see what a fantastic resource the Skills Place Newham is. He wants them to take advantage of the opportunities it has to offer to further and better their prospects in life either by getting skilling-up to get a new job or by using it to further their careers in their current employment.
For some, it means learning how to break into the sectors by gaining the knowledge about them. Skills Place Newham can do this by giving them comprehensive pre-employment training which will give them the chance to be prepared for interviews with potential employers to compete with people who have experience of those sectors.
Others may need help in moving up the ladder in their existing career, and again the skills academy can help them progress to the next level. Jeremy said: “Ultimately there’s no reason why they shouldn’t get to top senior level positions.
“One of the things that happen in society is that things move along very quickly and things change very quickly. When you look around at Stratford or the London Borough of Newham there are enormous developments taking place - you have the Olympics, there is the Tech City and there are developments in the The Royals.
“From our perspective in the Skills Place Newham we intend to keep up to date with each development and match the needs of the employers. There is no point in offering training for mining when there’s no need for it.
“So as long as an employers have needs for training then its up to us to meet that need by developing appropriate programmes. Its all about identifying and meeting the needs of customers. That’s what Skills Place Newham and Seetec are all about. We have to identify the need and address that need, then we can be successful.”
“Before we moved into the building we had already had 1,000 people through the doors. We had another building in Stratford and we had started skills training over there so we could hit the ground running here.
“We have established working relationships with Westfield (partners), the National Skills Academy for Retail and the London Borough of Newham including Workplace Newham. We work very closely with them as partners and are building up the number of training courses that we are delivering.”
One of things that goes in its favour is the fact that Skills Place Newham has staff with practical sector experience. It’s 8,500 square feet facility offers state-of-the art training using the very latest equipment .
If you can access a computer you can use its online training resources.
Jeremy said: “Its also a very a practical approach - they can do visual merchandise training. Visual merchandising its absolutely critical. We have 300 retail outlets at Westfield Stratford city so a lot a lot of people go window shopping. We have to turn the window shoppers into prospects and get them into the store and make them purchase the goods - that’s what its all about.”
“I think we have got, for people, a local resource with really exciting opportunities here. All you can do is create and advertise opportunities but its very much down to the people to grab those opportunities.”
“I am an eternal optimist. I look back through history and there have been hard and gloomy times - the Great Depression, the times between the two World Wars, the time immediately after the Second World War and particularly in this area which was bombed. I remember when I was a kid my mother took me for a boat trip around the Port of London, near the Isle Of Dogs, I remember the cranes and the ships. I look at it today and what I see today I could not have imagined all those years ago.
“I see this area developing and I am excited by the Olympic and Paralympic Games because I think that’s gong to do this area a lot of good. The eyes of the world are going to be on Stratford for four weeks next year and they will I think judge the UK by their experience of the Olympics and what they see.”