Skills call on LEPs accepted by government

The government has accepted a recommendation that skills should be a core priority for Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPS).

The recommendation was made by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee in April.

It came in a report that also said LEPs should demonstrate engagement with providers.

“We believe that skills should be a core priority,” said the committee report.

“While we acknowledge that many LEPs have got the balance right, and note the government guidelines on the subject, we have heard that some LEPs need to refocus.

“We therefore recommend 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 government’s response to the report was published by the select committee on Thursday, July 25.

“The government accepts this recommendation,” it said.

“It is up to LEPs to determine the priorities for their areas. Some skills elements will be included in the SLGF [single local growth fund] and LEPs will have to provide details of how they intend to deliver their strategic plans.

“The government is committed to putting control over the skills system in the hands of employers and learners and ensuring that the skills system is responsive to the skills needs of local communities to support growth and jobs.

“We have put £340m directly in the hands of employers through the Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot and will support demand from learners aged 24+ through Advanced Learner Loans.

“In response to Lord Heseltine’s report, the government stated that a skills system that is responsive to local needs can help drive economic growth.

“To ensure that local businesses can shape the pipeline of talent emerging from local further education (FE) institutions, at Autumn Statement 2012, the government agreed that LEPs would have a new strategic influence over skills policy in accordance with Lord Heseltine’s analysis.

“LEPs will be responsible for setting local skills strategies and will work with the FE providers to agree how those priorities will be delivered.”

The government said LEPs had a “number of levers to strengthen their engagement with providers,for example Chartered status for FE colleges was now dependent upon having taken into account the skills priorities of local LEPs.

“The government is reforming the delivery landscape so that employers have direct influence over qualifications and learning programmes and by ensuring that businesses and LEPs are represented strongly on college governing bodies,” added the government.