Expertise is a commodity on which it is often difficult to place a financial value but in a distinctly nervous market at the beginning of 2008, companies across the West Midlands are increasingly committing their expertise for free in order to help raise skills levels across the region.
A key cog in this wheel is a determined effort between the education sector and the world of business to provide a platform which brings those two sectors together.
Over the past couple of years a quiet revolution has taken place in the West Midlands in helping the region face up to its skills challenge.
Now, Advantage West Midlands is supporting a number of initiatives.
One such project is Business & Learning Connections, which from its base at Aston University takes 'real world' case studies and expertise from a wide and disparate number of local companies and delivers that expertise directly into the further education and higher education classroom.
This involves Business & Learning Connections producing video and multi-media tools to 'record' that expertise, which can then be used by lecturers and students as a key part of their studies.
A range of companies - some household names - are on board and see their contribution as an integral part of their CSR work.
One company is the West Bromwich Building Society. A number of senior staff - including chief executive Stephen Karle - were involved in the process of creating four video products now being used in further education.
The subjects concentrated on were leadership and skills, finance, customer service and corporate governance.
Jim King, communications manager at the West Bromwich Building Society, said it made 'complete sense' for companies to contribute to such projects.
"We position ourselves as an employer of choice and being involved at this level not only brings the world of business into the classroom, but helps us reach out to communities as a mutual organisation. …