Skills a core priority for Local Enterprise Partnerships

29 April 2013

NIACE welcomes the focus on skills from the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee on Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), supporting the report’s view that skills should be a core priority for LEPs.

NIACE is encouraged that this report highlights that while many LEPs have got the balance right, others need to refocus. It recommends that ‘LEPS be required to demonstrate their levels of engagement with local education, in particular with skills and apprenticeship providers, FE colleges and schools.’

The report also supports Lord Heseltine’s recommendation for a single funding pot and the government’s acceptance of it, but calls for greater detail on how the various funding streams will be brought together.

NIACE supports the Committee’s views and its request for further clarity on the single funding pot which will include elements of the skills budget. NIACE argues for a broad based approach that recognises the inter-connections of all parts of the learning and skills system for adults and young people.

Penny Lamb, Head of Policy Development at NIACE, said:

“In our recent response to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Local Growth, LEPs and Enterprise Zones we have set out a set of basic principles needed by all LEPs to develop medium and long-term strategies, based on a local area assessment of the skills needs of all adult learners. These strategies should take account of those outside the labour market and be married to the economic development plans. This will mean bringing together an expansive view of adult learning and skills that provides resilience for families and local communities. And by doing this it will address issues of social justice and mobility alongside supporting and developing the local economic development plan. However, of crucial importance is the help young people and adults will need to get them into employment and sustainable careers while meeting the needs of local employers.

“This approach is more critical than ever as LEPs take on new responsibilities for designing and delivering strategies on how best to use European Funding for a group of key priorities which include skills, employment and social inclusion.”

NIACE is currently responding to the Preliminary Guidance to Local Enterprise Partnerships on Structural and Investment Fund Strategies to support LEPs to consider a broad based approach.

Fiona Aldridge, Head of Learning for Work at NIACE, said:

“NIACE has many years of experience in researching and identifying adult learning and skills needs and its impact both at a national level and with individual organisations. We bring this expertise to the LEP table and look forward to working with colleagues across the country on this agenda.”