Skills reform

Revealed: 37 business groups chosen to lead local skills plans

Leading employer groups across England will write local skills improvement plans which detail how provision should change to meet labour market needs.

Leading employer groups across England will write local skills improvement plans which detail how provision should change to meet labour market needs.

Local chambers of commerce dominate the field of newly appointed employer representative bodies, despite concerns from MPs that they may not be suitable to write skills plans.

The Department for Education has today confirmed the names of 37 business organisations that will become officially designated ‘employer representative bodies (ERBs)’ on Monday, September 5. They will each be responsible for producing and reporting on a local skills improvement plan (LSIP) for their area which sets out the changes needed to skills provision in their area.

There should be 38 ERBs, however no suitable organisation was found for the Cheshire and Warrington area, which has gone back out for bids today. 

When the skills and post-16 education act was going through parliament last year, MPs raised the potential for conflicts of interest in handing responsibilities on skills planning to local employer groups and the potential for LSIPs to undermine the devolved skills plans of mayoral combined authorities. Calls for mayors to take control of LSIPs for their areas were defeated.

In total, 31 of the 37 ERBs chosen are local chambers of commerce. Others include an “auto-motive cluster” representing the north east and the Federation of Small Businesses leading LSIPs in the east midlands and Cornwall. 

See below for the list in full.

However every ERB will have to “publish and maintain” a conflict of interest policy. 

A brief set of terms and conditions was published today alongside the national list of ERBs which mandates each ERB to come up with processes to exclude any employees and members “from any discussion or decision making” related to a conflict. ERBs must also immediately notify DfE if any conflict of interest is perceived or has occurred. 

ERB’s will have their performance monitored through “regular reports” as a condition of their grant funding, though the funding agreements themselves will not been published.

Funding worth £20.9 million over three years was made available to ERBs, £550,000 each, to develop, implement and review LSIPs including a £50,000 start-up payment per ERB.

The employer groups have until May 31, 2023 to submit their local skills improvement plans for approval by the secretary of state.

£96 million for providers to ‘reshape skills provision’

The DfE has also announced today how much each area in England will receive from the second round of the strategic development fund

The fund is split between capital and revenue with the aim of helping providers upgrade their training facilities and build capacity to meet the needs of their local skills improvement plans. 

The total shared across 41 areas of England is £95.9 million, with the south west receiving the largest share worth just over £14 million. The region which will receive the least is the north east, which will see £7.6 million.

In full – All confirmed designated employer representative bodies:

LSIP AreaDesignated Employer Representative Body
North EastNorth East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) Limited
North of TyneNorth East England Chamber of Commerce
Tees ValleyNorth East England Chamber of Commerce
Cheshire and WarringtonNo ERB chosen – expression of interest exercise underway
CumbriaCumbria Chamber of Commerce
Greater ManchesterGreater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
LancashireNorth & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce
Liverpool City RegionSt Helens Chamber
Hull and East YorkshireHull & Humber Chamber of Commerce
South YorkshireDoncaster Chamber of Commerce
West YorkshireWest & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce
York and North YorkshireWest & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce
Derbyshire and NottinghamshireFederation of Small Businesses
Greater LincolnshireFederation of Small Businesses
Leicester and LeicestershireEast Midlands Chamber of Commerce
South-East MidlandsNorthamptonshire Chamber of Commerce (incorporating Milton Keynes Chamber)
Stoke-on-Trent and StaffordshireStaffordshire Chamber of Commerce & Industry
The MarchesShropshire Chamber of Commerce
West Midlands & WarwickshireCoventry and Warwickshire Chamber
WorcestershireHerefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce
Cambridgeshire and PeterboroughCambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce
Essex, Southend-on-Sea and ThurrockEssex Chamber of Commerce
HertfordshireHertfordshire Chamber of Commerce
Norfolk & SuffolkNorfolk Chambers of Commerce
Greater LondonBusiness LDN (Formally London First)
Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, West SussexSussex Chamber of Commerce
BuckinghamshireBuckinghamshire Business First
Enterprise M3 (including all of Surrey)Surrey Chambers of Commerce
Kent and MedwayKent Invicta Chamber of Commerce
OxfordshireThames Valley Chamber of Commerce Group
SolentHampshire Chamber of Commerce
Thames Valley BerkshireThames Valley Chamber of Commerce Group
Cornwall and the Isles of ScillyFederation of Small Businesses
DorsetDorset Chambers of Commerce
GloucestershireBusiness West Chambers of Commerce
Heart of the South WestDevon & Plymouth Chamber of Commerce
Swindon and WiltshireBusiness West Chamber of Commerce
West of England and North SomersetBusiness West Chamber of Commerce
Source: Department for Education

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  1. Derek Tilley

    Once again the government is putting the skills plan into the hands of the chambers, who with respect do not know what is required. This is de déjà vu ee go round in circles. They will come up with a narrow minded local plan that is more of the same and not look at the educational needs of individuals

  2. Tim Buchanan

    Chambers of commerce, white pale stale and out of touch with the needs of skill development going forward, same old same approach will continue where we need to understand as at other points in history we are at a point of revolution in work and these groups represent a mode that is and needs to continue evolving.