A skills improvement plan that aims to reshape the future of technical skills provision in Lancashire has been submitted to government.
The Lancashire Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP), which is being led by the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the Department of Education, captured the views of over 2,000 Lancashire businesses to create the plan The plan was submitted to the Department of Education this week to help the government determine whether Local Skills Improvement Plans is the best method to shape UK skills provision.
If approved, it will shape the Government’s policy for upskilling and reskilling in Lancashire.
Through surveys, sector-specific and cross-sector focus groups, one-to-one interviews, round-table discussions and a series of roadshows, two thirds of businesses have expressed a skills shortage and want to see major changes in the way technical college courses are created and delivered.
The LSIP research highlighted shortages in essential technical skills are rising and this applies to the majority of sectors.
One of the biggest concerns for employers is the time is takes to find the right training. The majority of businesses felt the local skills provision landscape is confusing, especially when it comes to funding.
The time it takes for employees to complete courses and time out of the business was another worry.
Course programmes were also found to be too generalised and rigid, failing to address industry requirements.
Some of the key recommendations of the LSIP include:
The LSIP to have a statutory function that requires all training and funding bids to be conducted in association with the LSIP to ensure that there is a need for it and to provide supportive evidence for the project.
More focus on courses in industries struggling to recruit such as manufacturing, construction, health and social care, transport and distribution, farming and agriculture.
Set-up a central organisation, independent of the providers, which can offer impartial information about the training available to meet the employer and learner needs.
Introduce a modular structure to course delivery with modules to be very clearly defined and skill-focused, giving employers an opportunity to cherry pick elements of specific courses.
Create a programme to provide placements for trainers in organisations.
Give providers a fund that can be drawn from, to deliver reactive training to deliver on urgent and emerging needs.
Work with the careers service to develop way of better educating not only young people, but also parents and teachers, of the opportunities that exist in these industries.
Priorities in schools need to change from academic attainment to a more mixed approach with vocational and technical skills.
Reach out to those out of work through organisations such as the Department of Work and Pensions and the prison service, informing them of skills needed within the workforce and how training can best prepare their people for those needs.
Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, which has offices in Preston and Blackpool, said: “Some recommendations coming out of this important piece of work will require changes and flexibilities from government, others will require partners to find funding.
“From many of the recommendations going forward is a request for modularised training courses and the creation of a central point where businesses are able to directly source training course availability and information.”
“While much of what we found in the research phase will be familiar to many, the methodology of the LSIP means that these findings, and recommendations, has been clearly validated by local employers.
“It has been particularly encouraging to see how employers and stakeholders have worked together to address these issues.”
Jane Cole, president of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Lancashire LSIP board, said: “I truly believe this will be a genuinely transformative approach to dealing with long-term skills gaps, improving productivity, and increasing opportunity for Lancashire people.
“This new system must be driven by employers, colleges and other providers working together to identify the skills needs of an area, and to begin the process of transforming the delivery of technical education so that it both meets and drives demand for skills.”
Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) 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 (SDF), 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.
In creating the LSIP, the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce has worked in partnership with the East Lancashire Chamber and been supported by Lancaster Chamber.
The plan can be found on Lancashire Local Skills Improvement Plan website at www.lancashirelsip.co.uk from DATE.
The Skills for Jobs White Paper set out a blueprint for a reformed technical education system. The Skills Accelerator, a key white paper commitment, aims to realign the post-16 education around the needs of employers, training people for the skills gaps that exist now and in the future.
The DfE wants to use the one-year LSIP Trailblazers and SDF pilots to test and evaluate the best ways to achieve this. The initiative will support the Government's plan for growth, contributing to the creation of high-quality jobs across the country.
The goal for growth is based on three pillars: investment in skills, innovation and infrastructure aimed at delivering priorities around levelling-up, supporting the transition to net-zero, and making the most of the opportunities of “Global Britain”.