It has long been said that the employers do not exactly get what they need from the existing education and skills system which struggles to be responsive to the fast pace of change in the world of business. That coupled with a significant labour shortage, and businesses find themselves in an increasingly difficult position with finding staff with the right skills to help them grow and prosper.
As a response to this the Government introduced LSIP’s, a scheme that has been developed across England to provide employers with a voice and to gain a better understanding of the skills they need at a local level. By placing employers at the heart of the local skills systems and facilitating direct and dynamic working arrangements between both employers and education providers, the government hopes to stimulate a new way of working that enables the system to better meet the needs of employers.
We worked with local employers, partners, educators and training providers to develop a plan to capture the skills needs and to identify the action-based solutions required to enable local colleges and skills providers to effectively meet that need.
In order to develop a clear picture of what was needed we established an Employer Board and held an extensive series of Employer Engagement events held across the County in various academic settings. We also ran an Employers Survey as well as a Providers Survey. Through this detailed engagement and collaboration process between Essex businesses and education providers we have been amazed and enthused by the support this project has received.
A key finding of the project identified a lack of soft skills as an issue for employers. Candidates lack basic communication skills with little problem-solving ability. Although, responses showed that 58% of employers were not looking to currently invest in their own training, due to availability and cost, 61% said they would be prepared to support training providers with company visits and work placements. Even though companies are feeling the pinch themselves there is still an appetite in Essex to help bridge our current skills gaps.
The survey responses and feedback during the engagement events where collated into a report submitted to the Department of Education. The report outlines the key findings of Stage 1 and proposes ways in which to address the issues raised. The full report is available to view via our website.
We would like to sincerely thank everyone who contributed their time and feedback to our surveys and engagement events. Without these conversations we would not have been able to identify, collate and amplify the needs of Essex businesses in our employer led approach to uncovering skills needs in the County.
With stage 2 now agreed, there are preparations under way and we will begin to deliver our proposed initiatives as laid out in the report. We aim to make the skills landscape easier to navigate for businesses, educators, and training providers. With other changes heading not only to Essex, such as growth in housing development, some larger national infrastructure projects, plus two new Freeports, there could not be a better time to embark on this plan.
Denise Rossiter, CEO of the Essex Chambers of Commerce said: “As home to a wide range of employers from sole traders and small businesses, through to national and international companies, Essex is famously entrepreneurial and very well placed to take a truly employer led approach to skills, exactly what was needed for this project. This spirit has shone throughout this journey. Over the past few months, I have been overwhelmed by the fantastic collaboration with our colleges, providers and public sector partners. This provides an excellent foundation. Thank you to everyone involved so far and together we will make a difference!”
Andy Sparks, LSIP Director of the Essex Chambers of Commerce said: “I am delighted that the Essex, Southend and Thurrock LSIP has been agreed by the Secretary of State for Education. This marks an evolution in the approach to skills planning and will ensure that the needs of Essex businesses are placed at the centre of what is done. Over the coming months and years, we will build on this report to ensure that the local workforce is equipped with the knowledge and skills needed by employers to boost our economy in these difficult times”