A new five-year strategy to develop the skilled workforce needed to help East Sussex/Essex/Kent continue to grow and play its vital role in the UK economy has been agreed by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP).
Developed in partnership with local business and skills boards and supporting the Government’s Industrial Strategy and new national Careers Strategy, the SELEP blueprint is an employer and evidence-led statement of the skills and employment priorities needed to drive productivity and growth across the LEP area.
Presented to the SELEP Strategic Board at its June 2018 meeting, the Skills Strategy sets out a series of priorities, including:
Welcoming the strategy, Christian Brodie, Chair of SELEP, highlighted the challenges facing the area with the current population of 4.2 million predicted to grow to nearly 5 million by 2039 and more than 300,000 new homes planned between now and 2030, putting particular pressure on the construction sector.
“The growth throughout the area means employers across a range of sectors are seeing shortages of skilled recruits,” said Christian. “In addition to challenges facing the construction sector, employers across the LEP area have advertised more than 7,500 nursing vacancies, 4,000 care worker positions and nearly 8,000 programmers and web developer roles in the past year alone.
“It is also important to remember that for all the perceived wealth of the South East we have some of the most deprived areas nationally, particularly in our rural and coastal communities, where we need to help people enter and progress in the labour market. We need local people to develop the skills necessary to support regeneration and growth.”
As an area SELEP is facing a number of skills-related issues, which impact on its economic performance, including:
SELEP’s recent skills successes are nationally significant and include engaging with Government on the future apprenticeship levy, working with the Careers Enterprise Network and linking education and industry with 160 secondary schools, securing a £37m capital programme delivering industry relevant training facilities and a further £51m from the European Social Fund for projects supporting people into and in work.
Graham Razey, chair of SELEP Skills Advisory Group, Principle and CEO of East Kent College Group said: “The evidence and feedback throughout the drafting of this strategy shows the key requirement is for greater alignment between education and employers at all levels and a closer alignment between economic growth and opportunities for local people.
“With growth forecast on an unprecedented scale, the digital revolution and population increases, employers will need support and clarity to respond, while many in our communities will require additional in-depth support and facilities.
“It is encouraging that there is already a large scale commitment to respond to these challenges from employers, education providers and the voluntary sector, representing a public/private partnership on a significant scale.
“We have a common ambition and we will break down the barriers identified and deploy all funds available to us in achieving this.”
The SELEP Skills Strategy 2018-2023 will be formally launched later this summer. The action plan supporting it and supporting documents will be available on our website.