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Thames Valley Berkshire LEP reveals first Local Skills Report and highlights priorities for accelerating Berkshire’s economy post-COVID-19

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP has published its first Local Skills Report, outlining its commitment to bolstering post-COVID-19 employment and skills development across Berkshire. Part of the Department for Education’s strategy for ensuring that national-level prioities are met on a local level, this latest report provides a 'go-to' document for everything skills-related in Berkshire.

The report outlines how collaborative programmes and partnerships across Berkshire will support young people, older workers, the unemployed and those impacted by COVID-19 to access high-quality training and secure fulfilling careers in the local area. This latest insight follows the LEP’s recent publication of its Recovery and Renewal Plan, which highlighted the need for a skilled and fulfilled workforce in Berkshire to ensure its community can build back better.

Katharine Horler, Chair of the Thames Valley Berkshire Skills Advisory Panel says: “Berkshire is one of the most economically successful areas in Britain and has a wealth of talent within its population. However, to guarantee continued success, and to ensure local people can access high-quality jobs, there are skill and opportunity gaps that need addressing. Our Local Skills Report outlines how we will address these gaps through new and continuing collaborative initiatives. Not only do businesses rely on skilled employees to thrive, but it is our mission to ensure local people have access to fulfilling and secure work.”

 

Skills and employment priorities for post-Coronavirus recovery and renewal 

The report identifies the priorities that will ensure Berkshire remains resilient and is able to capitalise on future opportunities in the post-COVID-19 economy. These are:

  • Growing and evolving higher-level skills
    • Strengthening the supply of people with higher-level technical, managerial and entrepreneurial skills to meet skills demand and drive productivity, particularly in skills shortage areas and developing sectors
  • Ensure education meets the skills needs of the local economy
    • Working closely with further education (FE) providers to ensure education meets the skills needs of the local economy
    • Helping young people make informed career decisions, working with partners to secure Apprenticeship opportunities and develop digital skills
  • Raising the demand for skills development
    • Promote lifelong learning to ensure businesses maximise their potential and employees don’t get left behind
  • Increasing the number of people in ‘good work’
    • Ensure that employers can offer inclusive, engaging and secure work
    • Supporting those furthest from the labour market, such as young people and long-term unemployed into work, increasing inclusion and enhancing wellbeing through good work.

 

This latest report details the progress made on current local skills initiatives and outlines future skills plans to plug key skills gaps in Berkshire and will help engage, influence and rally employers and providers to support these vital plans. 

Delivering a spectrum of support, services and programmes for a skilled Berkshire

As detailed in the LEP’s Recovery and Renewal Plans published in February 2021, ongoing initiatives to support employment and skills are already proving to be a success. For example, skills and employment portal, Berkshire Opportunities continues to support job seekers, enabling Berkshire’s residents to easily search local vacancies, apprenticeships and learning opportunities, and access relevant, local support and advice. Other key initiatives include:

  • The Redundancy and Redeployment Service, launched with the National Careers Service, which is working with local employers to match those who have recently been made redundant with new work in sectors experiencing a surge in employment demand
  • The Business Growth Hub, providing support services for existing businesses and to those looking to start their own business.

 

In addition to the activities already underway, the latest Local Skills Report details new initiatives which will bolster skills and employment in Berkshire:

  • Enhancing careers, education, advice and guidance for young people through the

continued development of the Berkshire Careers Hub

  • Establishing an Apprenticeship Hub which will help employers to maintain existing posts.
  • Working with partners and key local digital employers to develop a Digital Skills Partnership.

 

In addition, the LEP has recently invested approx. £4.5 million in Skills Capital Projects, inspiring students, young people and adults to develop the skills needed by employers in key sectors, for example The Care Skills Training Centre at Reading College, which boasts the UK’s best simulated health care environment. Such initiatives are helping to ensure local people have the skills that are most needed by local employers, with sectors including health and social care, technology and IT.

Alison Webster, CEO of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP explains: It is essential that we use our position to drive growth and support  Berkshire’s economy to ensure employers and educators are tailoring skills and training provisions for those most impacted by the economic fallout from Covid-19. For young people and  those in unsecure industries we must focus on developing transferable skills and encouraging lifelong learning. Our ambition is that educators use this report to inform their curriculum planning, while businesses use it to inform workforce planning, identifying key areas for training, upskilling and continuing professional development investment. Having access to localised data will help educators and employers to take a more collaborative and informed approach, ensuring we can overcome current challenges and continue our  economic success.”

To access the full report, please see http://bit.ly/SkillsReport

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