Have your say on skills and training 

September 26, 2023

Businesses in the Marches are being urged to help shape the future of skills training across the region by taking part in the second stage of a major research project.

The Local Skills Improvement Plan is being led by Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, and is designed to gain a better understanding of skills and training requirements across the Marches – Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.

Around 450 businesses contributed to the first stage of the project, and a report on the findings has just been published.

Organisers are now appealing for more employers to step forward for the next stage, to help ensure that their views are fully represented.

The LSIP project is targeting specific sectors such as engineering, manufacturing, food production, professional services, construction, environmental technologies, and health & social care.

The aim is to help post-16 education providers and other public sector bodies to ensure that the voice of employers is at the forefront when planning skills training.

Matt Lowe, director of business at Shropshire Chamber said, “The emphasis is to build an understanding of what we need from employers for the next 10 to 15 years, and for providers to be working in partnership to help achieve it.

“From the first phase of the research, businesses have raised important issues around gaps in work-ready skills. They told us that soft skills, including basic professional use of email, Word and Excel, are below par – even with graduates.

“Dropout rates and no-shows among staff, particularly in semi or low-skilled roles, also remains high, suggesting there is an issue around people understanding the expectations of what ‘being employed’ involves.

“The second stage of the LSIP research will be more a deep dive into some of these important issues, and we want to engage with as many businesses as possible to add greater depth to our research.”

Speaking at the recent Skills Support Showcase in Telford, Matt told delegates that there was a clear need to ‘help bridge the language and culture gap between private enterprise, and public bodies’.

He added: “Some of the key tasks of stage two are to help employers to help themselves through stronger interactions with training providers.

“We want to ensure those providers have staff with current knowledge who understand the various business ways of working, and can work together to find innovative delivery solutions.

“We want to signpost and spread the word to ensure that all employers understand just what is available, accessible, and where to find it.

“But without the support of employers, large and small, we cannot make this happen. We need your stories, and your feedback.

“So, we ask employers to be willing to share their thoughts, confidentially, or work directly with providers or other stakeholders to ensure we are all moving in the same direction.”

The Government’s Skills for Jobs White Paper has put employers firmly at the core of the skills agenda for post-16 education – a stance welcomed by the business world.

For more details, or to contribute to the second stage of the LSIP research, email lsip@shropshire-chamber.co.uk or call the Shropshire Chamber team on 01952 208200.

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The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership has now ceased trading and transferred all its functions to Shropshire Council working with Telford & Wrekin Council and Herefordshire Council, in line with the UK Government's plans for devolution.

The Marches LEP was established in 2011 and hands over an impressive legacy from its 13-year life. In that time the LEP invested over £196m in projects across the Marches, securing in excess of £100m of match funding and supported more than 66,000 business interactions.

The schemes supported have made tangible differences to local communities, increasing skills, creating jobs and improving the physical appearance of many towns.

We would like to thank all the LEP Board Members who have given their time freely over the life of the LEP, as well as all the staff who worked for the LEP over the years. We also want to thank our delivery partners, local education providers and local, regional and national stakeholders who helped us achieve so much.

The Marches Growth Hub will continue to support businesses and will be managed by Shropshire Council, supported by Telford and Wrekin and Herefordshire Councils. Each of the three Local Authorities will also continue to provide direct business support locally. Details of this support will be available through the Marches Growth Hub website and from the Local Authorities directly. Website: www.marchesgrowthhub.co.uk | email: enquiries@marchesgrowthhub.co.uk.

The Marches Careers Hub will continue to be delivered and will be managed by Shropshire Council, supported by Telford & Wrekin and Herefordshire Councils. Website: www.marchescareershub.co.uk | email: info@marchescareershub.co.uk

For any queries about Getting Building Fund (GBF), Local Growth Fund (LGF) and Marches Investment Fund (MIF) projects supported by the Marches LEP please contact: gary.spence@shropshire.gov.uk

For any finance queries please contact: michelle.hodgkiss@shropshire.gov.uk

The solvent liquidation of the Marches LEP is being managed by the Evelyn Partners Limited. For any matter related to this please contact: Camilla.Mulholland@evelyn.com

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