From education to employment

LSC London West Chief Executive Speaks of Skills for Life and SME’s

Peter Pledger, the Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) London West, spoke at the launch of the Pan London 2 (PL2) funding programme of the impact that European Social Funding (ESF) has had in his area.

He was part of the panel at the launch, alongside the Minister for ESF, James Plaskitt MP, and stood before the assembled multitude of sector stakeholders for London to look at the positive influence that ESF funding has been both for personal education and training goals in areas such as literacy and numeracy, and also in engaging with employers to build a targeted skills workforce.

An Audience Divided Unequally

He began by pointing out that the audience before him in the conference hall at the New Connaught Room could be loosely divided into two groups. The first group consists of those who wish to celebrate the successes of the ESF programme; the second, which he personally felt would be by far the larger percentage, composed of those who wanted to find out how to access the new ESF funding package of £35 million across London.

He stressed that the money that had been dispensed from ESF sources in his area – £38 million during the course of the ESF programme to date ““ had been “extremely active”. He stated that one of the benefits of the ESF programme was that it could be targeted effectively, and could be made to contribute directly to the targets rather than suffering any perceived dilution en route.

Skills for Life

One of the central planks on the ship deck of Government policy is that of ensuring that all members of British society possess basic skills levels in numeracy and literacy, the so ““ called “skills for life” programme. This has led to the Government guaranteeing that all training in this area, up to Level 2 training (which is roughly equivalent to holding five GCSEs) will be free of charge to students of all ages; an important guarantee at a time when post ““ 19 education is growing more expensive to the learner.

Mr. Pledger is “particularly proud” of his achievements in this area in LSC London West. In this part of London, ESF funding has boosted programmes, and has resulted in some 33,000 people who formerly lacked literacy and numeracy skills, or had some level of difficulty in dealing with them, had now successfully improved their levels.

ESF for Employer Focus

Another of the projects that the Government is extremely keen to promote is the improvement of engagement on the part of employers, both to accurately develop the skills that employers require and to encourage employers to be more active in supporting training courses through incentives for employees and through funding. Mr. Pledger pointed out that ESF funding was being used to support this as well.

After expressing the hope that as many as one hundred new projects could be encouraged through ESF funding, he revealed that his LSC has helped 318 Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to upskill approximately 10,000 staff, through ESF contribution. He also stated that 5% of ESF funding would continue to be committed to building the competence and skills levels of the care and voluntary sectors.

In short, in LSC London West, ESF funding has bee successful in meeting the challenges of the area in terms of skills training and employer engagement. One question that springs to mind is whether the employer engagement will be active enough for the additional funding that will be needed post ““ ESF to be drawn from those self same SMEs that have benefited to date.

Jethro Marsh

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