How will the government review of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) affect the work going on to improve skills in the North East? Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, gives an update.
In February of this year, the government published its Levelling Up white paper which not only set out proposals to spread opportunity more equally throughout the UK, but also reviewed and clarified the role that LEPs will play going forward.
This review recognised the valuable role LEPs play in supporting local economic growth and it confirmed that one of our core aims as a LEP will still be to ensure North East residents of all ages have the opportunity to develop skills that match the opportunities in the labour market.
The North East LEP and its skills programme is very much aligned with the government’s vision and confirmation of this has been useful and positive.
As a result, many things about the way we work will stay the same following the review. We will still be facilitating partnerships between business and education. We will still be working to make sure that each and every young person in our region can access the world of work when they leave education. And we will still be working with businesses to help them become more successful by upskilling their teams and creating links with the next generation.
In terms of change, there is more for us to do in terms of supporting individual businesses and sectors in our region to overcome their particular challenges. We’ll be working closely with our business growth colleagues who are speaking to companies day in and day out, to find out what the issues are which are preventing them from growing and scaling and to provide a solution or support where we can, such as guiding people through the options for recruiting apprentices, or helping businesses to get involved with shaping the region’s new technical education offer.
We’ll also be looking at challenges businesses face in a range of sectors, like social care, which are big employers in our region but which fall outside the six sectors which have been identified in the North East Strategic Economic Plan as key areas of growth and opportunity (these are advanced manufacturing, digital, energy, and health and life sciences). After all, having an appropriately-skilled and qualified population is good for businesses in every industry.
So while we will be aligning everything we do with government priorities, the needs of people, education providers and businesses in our particular geography will always be our focus.
And while change can be difficult to navigate – and we’ve definitely been through a lot of change recently – taking a long term view can help. This applies to us at the North East LEP and it applies to businesses too. If you see skills as something which can help you secure the future of your business in the long term, and you can spend some time now on training, apprenticeships and T-Level placements, you’ll be in a better position to navigate change in the future. And we can help you do that.
Skills was a priority for us before the government review and it’s still a priority now. We want all businesses in the North East to be able to get the skills support they need, so if there’s a challenge you are facing then please do let us know.
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