Helen Higson

@GBSLEP - The Role LEPs can play in helping to deliver Lifetime Skills

A  view from Chair of GBSLEP's Employment and Skills Board, Helen Higson following the Government's White Paper "Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth.”

Last week, the Government released its much-anticipated Further Education White Paper “Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth.”  This report highlights the realignment of post-16 education to help us recover from the Coronavirus pandemic as well as adapt to life outside the EU.

The reforms outlined in the White Paper will deliver the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee and the focus is on employers playing a central role in Further Education and Skills Training. The ambition is to ensure that the education and training people receive, is directly linked to the skills needed for real jobs.

A new £2.5bn National Skills Fund will be introduced to support adults to gain in-demand skills training and open further job opportunities.  The aim is to bring Further Education institutions, and business representative such as Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) into heart of the planning, training, and education. This fund will build on the successes of employer-led apprenticeship delivery in several ways including Level 3 adult training, designing qualifications and setting standards to meet demand.

It is an approach we are very familiar with here at GBSLEP. Our unique partnership between the public, private, and academic sectors has been at the core of our strategy for skills training. It has enabled us to identify gaps in higher level skills and sector specific market needs. Our approach to tackling this is centered around employer-led solutions and we have recently opened a one stop shop – The Skills and Apprenticeship Hub - that will enable us to deliver a totally business focused skills offer to employers across the GBSLEP area.

I believe we are in a strong position to work with Government and our partners to pilot a Local Skills Improvement Plan and Strategic Development Fund, as a continuation of our commitment to ‘levelling up’ in the GBSLEP region.

As Chair of the GBSLEP Employment and Skills Board we, along with our partners, are working hard to create targeted solutions for employers, especially at a higher level and in our key growth sectors: low carbon, advanced manufacturing, creative industries, business, professional and financial services and life sciences and health technology. We are creating meaningful career pathways for people of all ages in our region. Nevertheless, there is much more to do, to ensure everyone has access to the right training. I welcome the White Paper as it presents us with an opportunity to work together, create solutions and deliver the right skillset for inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

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