The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) has been chosen by government as one of only three LEPs across the country to pilot innovative new approaches to skills development funding to help boost local jobs and business growth. The opportunity presented by Business Secretary Vince Cable is for the North East to enjoy much greater influence and decision-making about skills funding in the LEP area.
NELEP and the North East Leadership Board of seven councils will work jointly with the Skills Funding Agency to develop the skills model, which could operate from as early as September this year through shadow arrangements with existing skills provision.
Its success, however, will depend on a strong partnership with colleges and independent training providers. Employer input will also be critical and the aim is to improve the outcomes for individuals and businesses at a time when skills have been identified as the most critical issue for growing businesses.
Andrew Hodgson, NELEP board member who leads on skills development alongside fellow board member Anne Isherwood of Sunderland College said: “It’s great news that the ideas we put forward to government for the skills funding model are now being driven forward, and that the North East LEP is one of only three in the country to pilot this innovative skills funding model.
“The LEP has put the focus firmly on skills from the outset, and this model will be hugely important in helping to develop skills at every level, essential to the development of individual people, as well as economic performance. Effective skills and training programmes tailored to fit our area’s key sectors, for all ages of workers, answer the immediate needs of employers as well as the future demands of our local economy.”
Lord Andrew Adonis, who led the North East Independent Economic Review, said: “Our review of the North East economy highlighted the importance of matching current and future skills provision to demand in the labour market. As an area with a diverse and growing private sector economy that faces skills shortages in a number of sectors this new-found opportunity is a major step forward.
“I’m delighted that the leadership of the North East in this debate is being recognised with this additional form of devolution, which is a major fillip for the combined authority and LEP. I look forward to seeing this brave new approach realise its target of more and better jobs in the future.”
Andrew Hodgson added: “It’s clear that we need to think and act locally to create and strengthen a workforce with skills clearly linked to the North East economy and its key sectors. With the LEP, North East Leadership Board, businesses, colleges, and training companies working closely together we will help to drive growth through the capabilities of highly skilled people, trained and working in the North East.”
The two other LEPs taking part in the pilot are Stoke and Staffordshire and West of England.
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