Lancashire businesses called to have a say in shaping college training and skills of the future

Lancashire businesses are being given a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to put employers’ skills needs at the heart of college technical courses.

By Tim Gavell
Monday, 1st November 2021, 6:00 am

The call to shape the future of skills and training comes from the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, which today (November 1) started gathering evidence for the Lancashire Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP), after being chosen by the Department of Education to be a national Local Skills Improvement Plan Trailblazer.

The North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce is one of eight UK Chambers of Commerce appointed to spearhead the government-led initiative.

LSIPs are hoped to address concerns that employers do not have enough influence over courses and skills offered in local area and struggle to find skilled employees.

Babs Murphy from the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce

Local Skills Improvement Plans were proposed as elements of the government’s Skills for Jobs White Paper, published in January 2021, which is now referred to as the Skills Accelerator.

It also includes the Strategic Development Fund, a £65m investment to help colleges in the implement some of the strategic priorities set out in the local skills improvement plan.

In Lancashire, the SDF will be led by Myerscough College on behalf of The Lancashire Colleges.

Lancashire’s plan will be submitted to the Department of Education by March 31, next year to help the government determine whether Local Skills Improvement Plans is the best method to shape UK skills provision.

The North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, working in partnership with the East Lancashire Chamber and supported by Lancaster Chamber, is aiming to gather evidence from over 10,000 businesses to develop a clear plan of what skills provision is required in Lancashire.

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the chamber, which has more than 1,600 members in the county, said: “This is all about placing employers at the heart of defining local skills needs and it’s a one in a generation opportunity for Lancashire businesses to have their say.

“When the chamber delivers this support, engaging with thousands of businesses, the county will have an evidence-based skills audit of a sort never seen before. It will ensure future skills delivered by colleges of further education actually match what firms require and deserve in the future.

"This will be a genuinely transformative approach to dealing with long-term skills gaps, improving productivity and increasing opportunity for Lancashire people.”

A dedicated Lancashire Local Skills Improvement Plan website with links to surveys can be found at The North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce has recruited a dedicated business engagement team that will speak to businesses until January 2022.

Babs added: “The local skills agenda has never been as important as we address the post pandemic and Brexit world. This is a great opportunity for Lancashire’s businesses, colleges, training providers and business support community to work together and create a local skills improvement plan that

truly recognises the skills needs, and more importantly, some of the solutions needed to address these.”

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