From education to employment

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs): Creating employable skills for youth

The 157 Group, the Local Government Association (LGA) and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) have published a report examining the role of local enterprise partnerships (LEPs).

These three partners will work with members of the 35 LEPs realise their potential in meeting local skills needs.

Lynne Sedgmore CBE, executive director of the 157 Group said: “The role of LEPs in providing strategic leadership and addressing priorities is central to the Government’s strategy for sustainable long-term economic growth.”

Ms Sedgmore explained that the strategy works with colleges, universities and other providers working with local partners to ensure that skills between learners and employers are met, adding that there is a “strong case” for the development of local skills from the age of 14-year-olds.

The project began by assessing these needs along with the effectiveness of Labour Market Information (LMI) from October 2010-March 2011, as well as highlighting effective practise and
areas for improvement.

The 157 Group represents 27 of the most influential colleges within the FE sector. It was formed in 2006 in regard to Sir Andrew Foster’s report in which he argued that principles of large successful colleges should play a part in policymaking. It collectively serves 700,000 learners and engages with 32,000 employers, according to figures from Parliament UK 2010-11.

Meanwhile, Cllr Peter Box, chairman of the LGA’s Economy and Transport Board believes in the importance of local Government, businesses and colleges contributing to the skills and training that “fits the need of the employers”.

The LGA campaign for changes in policies, legislation and funding on behalf of its member councils and the people and communities they serve.

Anne Tipple, national skills executive at BCC, said: “By taking a leading role in LEPs and other strategic partnerships, businesses can choose the kinds of support structure that they find most appropriate.

“One of the case studies in the report describes a local chamber’s work to coordinate comprehensive, up-to-date intelligence on the needs of local businesses so that education and
training providers can plan their future provision,” Ms Tipple added. This will ensure that businesses are not held back by a lack of skilled staff.

The BCC works with the government to shape policy affecting businesses and focuses on key areas activity: international trade, skills development and business services.

Business Secretary Vince Cable approved the first wave of 24 LEPs in 2010 and a further 11 have also been announced: a total of 35 partnerships through the UK, according to government figures.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has declared a £1.4 billion Regional growth fund open to help businesses and local communities bid for money to expand private sector growth.

Ben Spencer

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