From education to employment

Leicestershire businesses encouraged to take part in innovative pilot scheme that will overhaul skills development

Businesses across Leicestershire have been invited to take part in a pioneering scheme that will help pave the way for a new approach to how skills programmes are delivered.

The Leicester and Leicestershire Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) pilot will put the county’s employers at the centre of skills provision, building stronger links with local colleges and training providers.

Led by East Midlands Chamber, it is one of eight “trailblazer” areas funded by the Department for Education as part of the LSIP programme. In this pilot phase, it is now looking for companies in logistics, manufacturing, and sports and human health to take part in the scheme.

Chris Hobson, director of policy and external affairs at East Midlands Chamber, said:

“We often hear there is a gap between education providers and employers when it comes to skills provision, and how this places businesses at a disadvantage when it comes to filling vacancies – ultimately holding them back from increasing productivity, growing and in turn creating more jobs.

“The LSIP pilot is a fantastic opportunity for the business community to put itself at the centre of this agenda so that learners coming out of our local colleges are well-equipped with the right knowledge, skills and behaviours for the demands of our labour market by aligning courses accordingly.

“To ensure the LSIP accurately reflects the needs of employers in the region, it’s important we hear from as many people from our target sectors as possible. This could include frontline staff, operations and support staff, team leaders, managers, HR departments or learning and development professionals.

“Participants will play an integral role in ensuring the future knowledge, skills and behaviour requirements are provided for within Leicestershire.”

What does the Local Skills Improvement Plan pilot involve?

The first phase of the LSIP pilot involves collecting data via a mobile app.

Participants will be asked to answer one or two short questions every weekday for up to four weeks. It should take no longer than a couple of minutes per day.

The daily questions will relate to five key training and development themes:

  1. Your confidence in being able to recruit the people you need
  2. Your views on investment in training and skills
  3. The knowledge areas most important to the future of your business
  4. The skills that will be most important for your business
  5. The behaviours that you feel will be most important for your team to have.

The data will be collected throughout the first weeks of 2022 before being used alongside wider datasets to inform the LSIP, which is due to be completed by the end of March 2022.

Chris added: “Our approach is very different to what’s come before and harnesses technology in a way that past approaches haven’t. By trialling data gathering through regular but less intrusive surveys via a mobile phone app, as opposed to the traditional focus groups or one-off in-depth surveys, we hope to be able to get a better and more timely sense of business sentiment around the knowledge, skills and behaviours they deem important, and how these shift over time.

“We’ll be cross-checking this with Department for Education and vacancy data to create a new skills observatory that will identify where mismatches exist and allow us to work with those in education to help bridge those gaps. Through our use of technology and automation, the intention is to develop an approach that is both sustainable and scalable should the pilot be successful.”

People who take part in the pilot will benefit from exclusive access to current data and trends in their sector, while helping to ensure the skills development provision reflects the needs of their business both now and in the future.

The LSIP pilot is part of the Government’s £65m Skills Accelerator programme, which was part of the Skills for Jobs White Paper published in January 2021. It aims to reshape England’s technical skills system to better support the needs of the local market and wider economy.

The East Midlands Chamber led pilot builds on its successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership with DeMontfort University, which seeks to make better use of economic data in the region.

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