From education to employment

£3m funding secured for East Midlands Chamber to deliver ‘game-changing’ new approach to skills development in Leicestershire

Further education colleges across Leicester and Leicestershire have been successful in securing £3m in Government funding to enable them to a respond to an East Midlands Chamber-led skills initiative published last summer.

The new programmes, to be delivered as part of the Government’s Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF), will aim to develop future green and digital skills across the city and county.

Following the bid by a consortium of colleges, the Department for Education has awarded £3.07m to further education colleges to deliver a range of programmes responding to the Leicester and Leicestershire Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP), published in August.

Work led by Leicester College, North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, Loughborough College and SMB College Group will focus on addressing four priority areas in skills needs for the area – decarbonising transportation, green leadership skills, digital upskilling and employer skills training – via new initiatives.

These areas were earmarked for intervention in a series of recommendations that followed a trailblazer project for the Leicester and Leicestershire LSIP. Launched in autumn 2022 and led by the Chamber with its partners, it aims to bridge the gap between the skills and attributes employers need in their workforce and what is on offer from local educators.

An innovative new data-led approach was developed by the Chamber, which led to the creation of Insight Unlocked, a “collective skills intelligence observatory” that pulls together insights from existing data sources around job adverts, occupation projections and qualification levels.

A mobile app was also used to engage businesses via short daily surveys on their live requirements for skills, knowledge and behaviours, with findings from this pilot published in summer 2023.

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

“Businesses have been telling us for a long time now that skills gaps are one of the biggest issues holding them back from achieving sustainable long-term growth.

“The Leicester and Leicestershire LSIP is a game-changing initiative in shaping future skills, knowledge and behaviours by aligning local education with the needs of local employers, with the overall aim of improving employability.

“Having provided the evidence base through our innovative data-led approach, we are delighted that colleges have now received funding to address some of the issues identified, with a key focus on developing the green and digital skills that will be needed in the future.

“This will help us to establish Leicester and Leicestershire as the best place in the country for developing people with the skills needed for businesses to thrive, the economy to grow and individuals to succeed.

Examples of activities in each of the four areas of the Leicester and Leicestershire LSIP are:

  • Decarbonising transportation: Skills training for staff at levels three to five in green transport technologies to support a step-change in becoming carbon-neutral. New qualifications will include IMI Level 3 electric and hybrid system repair and replacement, and IMI Level 4 in diagnostics, testing and repair of electric and hybrid vehicles and components.
  • Green leadership skills: Collaborative development of short, contextualised Level 3 courses, including a new green leadership health check tool for leaders, managers and decision-making staff within organisations to assess the viability of implementing sustainable energy, waste and building technologies.
  • Digital upskilling: New easy-access, flexible short courses between levels three and five for digital skills in business, including digital marketing, social media, cloud computing, data analytics and an introduction to artificial intelligence.
  • Employer skills training: Review further education training across Harborough and the surrounding districts, including adult provision and English as a second language across Leicestershire. Data scientists will analyse training needs of industry to gain a deeper understanding of the area and how to engage employers.

Verity Hancock, principal of Leicester College, said:

“The next stage of the LSIF is a real funding boost that will extend support for colleges and training providers such as Leicester College. It will enable us to offer more high-quality training opportunities and help to develop the skills base in key local industries.”

LSIPs were introduced by the Department for Education to support more people to gain the skills they need to secure rewarding careers, while ensuring the training on offer better meets the current and future skills needs of local areas.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: 

“This investment is about boosting local industries, building people’s skills and ultimately futureproofing our economy and the career prospects of the next generation.

“Our local skills projects will bring together regional organisations, businesses and education providers to respond to the specific needs of employers, building an increasingly skilled workforce and growing local economies.

“Whether it is green skills, construction, engineering or digital, thousands more people can now gain the skills they need to secure good jobs closer to home. These are long-term plans that will ensure every area can have a brighter future.”

Businesses that want to get involved with helping to shape future priorities in the skills agenda can register their interest here.

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