Graeme Perks founded Skillbuilders in 2001. A carpenter by trade, Perks was concerned that traditional artisan skills and crafts were at risk of dying out.
Since starting, Perks has managed to attract two volunteer directors and 70 local artisan businesses to join his mission of keeping crafts such as bakery and carpentry well and truly alive. How?
Skillbuilders, based in Shropshire, provides vocational training in food technology, traditional crafts and engineering for 14-19+ year olds. It also encourages professionals from the private and education sector to work with young people to raise their awareness and interest in a variety of vocational areas.
It has developed a number of long-term corporate partnerships, however, their main support comes from the 70 businesses that give their time and resources voluntarily. Any surplus Skillbuilders makes (for example, from community events they run) is re-invested into activities that benefit the local community and next generation skills, education and enterprise agenda.
Perks chose the CIC structure because it reflects the business ethos of the organisation. “Becoming a CIC has given us credibility, a clear business structure, accountability and introduced us to a family of activity – other CICs with the same business understanding and ethos,” says Perks.
“It’s amazing the number of businesses that have collaborated with us, covering a large geographic area and working across sectors. The CIC structure has helped us gel people together and attract new people to join the collective,” says Perks.
Skillbuilders currently operates as a CIC limited by guarantee. However, Perks hopes it can eventually move to a CIC limited by shares. “It would be great to see the 1,500 young people we have helped to date become share owners,” he adds.
Perks believes organisations like Skillbuilders are even more important in the current economic climate. “Skillbuilders bridges the gap between the private sector and young people by providing a real way for businesses to invest in the future of young people.”
Future plans also involve raising revenue to build a workshop space specialising in timber, to train young people in furniture manufacturing and create a product range that would generate a more sustainable income stream for the organisation. It is also looking to branch out to other parts of the UK, and has already set about working on a partnership in Wales.
|CIC limited by guarantee
|Community interest statement
|Provider of vocational training in food technology, traditional crafts and engineering for 14-19+ year olds. All surplus is re-invested into activities that benefit the local community and next generation skills, education and enterprise agenda.
Find out more about Skillbuilders