Adonis Growth Review – NIACE response

1 July 2014

NIACE believes that the announcement of the next phase in the Opposition’s Growth Review, a report published by Lord Adonis on regional economic devolution – should have a greater focus on the importance of skills training for people already in work.

The Adonis report – Mending the Fractured Economy – contains a number of key proposals on economic growth, learning and skills, including:

  • a headline commitment to devolve up to £30bn of Whitehall resources to new Combined Authorities;
  • prominent mention of adult skills, Apprenticeships and Local Enterprise Partnerships’ (LEPs) role in planning provision and encouraging Apprenticeship take-up;
  • expanding the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Apprenticeships and the number of University Technical Colleges (UTCs);
  • introducing a new “pot of money [for LEPs] to invest in economic development”; and
  • developing plans for local revenue retention by Combined Authorities via local retention of extra business rates generated through improved growth.

David Hughes, NIACE Chief Executive, said,

“It is reassuring to see skills being discussed on an equal footing with infrastructure funding in this Review. However it is disappointing that it has not recognised the importance of stimulating people already in the labour force to improve their skills and incentivising employers to make this happen. In our recent election manifesto we spelt out the challenge of 13.5million jobs which need filling in the next decade, whilst there are only 7 million new labour market entrants. We believe that challenge needs a “new localism” on education as well as on learning and skills, and an integration of growth strategies at a local level with leadership from LEPs and combined authorities. The echoes of this ask in the Adonis report represents an important step forward.

“We now have a clear consensus between the three main parties on skills devolution, and a future agenda for LEPs over the next Parliament is emerging.  Our manifesto was clear that recovery requires “prosperity for all”.  The potential for up to £30bn of Whitehall funds to be devolved, including further devolution of the adult skills budget, adds another dimension to this debate. 

“We continue to press the case for localism and for learning and skills to be central to growth strategies across the country.  Not every area has a Combined Authority, and LEPs vary in nature, so we need to retain a national approach to skills augmentation locally where the organisations are able to make a positive impact.

“The push for LEPs to have a greater leadership role in driving planning and take up of Apprenticeships is something we have recently supported through our work with LEPs on improving labour market information in their skills plans, and our work with LEPs on STEM Traineeships.  The key to the local role on skills is to stimulate informed demand from employers and learners. We want people and employers to be supported to think about their future skills needs and opportunities and for colleges, universities and learning providers to respond with creative and exciting new learning offers which are appropriate to the local economy and communities.

“We encourage our stakeholders to continue to get behind the new NIACE manifesto so we can take a united front into the 2015 election campaign to continue to improve learning and skills opportunities for all adults, with devolution and localism remaining central.”