The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership’s “hands-on” approach to working with the business community has been highlighted in an independent report published this week.
A £2.8m manufacturing skills project developed by the Marches LEP to create nearly 2,700 apprenticeships is highlighted in the research as “exemplifying how LEPs can lead a hands-on business process” to identify what employers need and working with them to design a solution.
The Marches LEP works closely with three area business boards in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, with the chairs of each also sitting on the Marches LEP Board.
The Leading the Way report, which is the result of research into all 38 LEPs in England, reports that the partnerships are making a “significant impact”, operating extremely efficiently and are able to think and act strategically to support their specific local economies.
It says: “Manufacturing businesses employ approximately 14% of the total workforce in the Marches LEP area. These companies are often major employers with substantial supply chains, and it is critically important for the vitality of the Marches economy that the manufacturing and engineering sector is able to thrive.
“Business surveys carried out by the LEP identified that almost three quarters of all manufacturing businesses are reporting hard-to-fill vacancies with engineering being the 18 most common gap in workforce skills. To address this, the LEP brought together manufacturing businesses in the LEP area – which weren’t on the LEP Board or sub-groups – to discuss skills needs and development concerns.”
The Marches LEP is the private sector led partnership that is tasked with driving economic growth across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin. The LEP works with local authority partners Herefordshire Council, Shropshire Council and Telford & Wrekin Council, as well as the chairs of the area’s three Business Boards.
It recently awarded contracts worth £2.81m to develop three Advanced Manufacturing Hubs in the Marches that will create nearly 2,700 apprenticeships to tackle the existing skills gap in the sector.
The report praises the Marches LEP for working with manufacturing businesses to “design a sustainable solution which the business community will continue to have input to in moving their workforce skills forward and future-proofing their businesses.”
Graham Wynn Chairman of the Marches LEP said: “We are delighted that this independent report has recognised our proactive campaign to deliver a practical solution to an issue that is critically important to the future prosperity of our region.
“Plugging the skills gaps that currently exist will mean that businesses here will be able to grow and thrive. That means more investment and more jobs, which can only have a positive impact on the economic prosperity of our county.”