One of Lancashire’s leading educators has told the county’s business community that commitment to investing in a workforce can be the difference between success and failure.

Dr Lis Smith, Principal and Chief Executive at Preston’s College, said companies needed to look not only at bringing in new talent, but also investing in their existing workforce.

It has a pedigree of working with local employers to deliver their staff’s skills and for Apprenticeships, helping to bring growth within the business community.

Preston’s College is again sponsoring one of Lancashire’s biggest business awards, the Be Inspired Business Awards, which are now open for applications.

Dr Smith said: “Businesses need people who not only have the right skills but also the right behaviours, that is a vital mix if they are to succeed.

“As educators, we need to ensure we are delivering what businesses want in terms of skills and recognising that different sectors will require different skills.

“The college has reinvented the way it provides education with a clear focus on making students ‘the most employable’. This means real life working environments and live project briefs from employers, utilising over £16m invested in both a new enterprising learning ‘In-Zone’ and our new £13m iSTEM Centre, recognition of the need to put employability and enterprise at the heart of what we do.”

She added that businesses needed to ensure they were playing their part in this push and work alongside the education sector to drive up the skills and standards of their workforce.

Dr Smith said: “There are a number of businesses which we work closely alongside, but we can always do more.

“I would like to see more businesses working with Further Education to help drive up standards, because it is only through such a partnership that we are going to achieve our aim.”

In 2014, Preston’s College sponsored the BIBAs Employer of the Year category, which was won by Magma Digital, and the college is sponsoring the awards again this year.

The awards has 18 prizes available for businesses across Lancashire to apply for ahead of the application deadline next month.

A 19th trophy, the lifetime achievement prize, Lancastrian of the Year, will also be handed out at the BIBAs’ prize-giving ceremony held at the Blackpool Tower on September 11.