Skills Commission issues report calling for strategic skills funding decisions for Northern Powerhouse devolution

Date published: 08 December 2016

The Skills Commission is calling for devolution funding to be based on an area’s capability and ambition, not just population or businesses, to ensure devolved areas can fill the skills gap.

The report highlights how local Manchester college group, the LTE Group, offers distance and blended learning across a range of levels of education and training. This helps to meet the needs of the 105,000 local businesses in the Northern Powerhouse as well as make education and training much more accessible its learners.

Lord David Blunkett, Barry Sheerman MP, Dame Ruth Silver and Neil Bates, Principal and CEO of the UK’s first college of advanced technology, have come together with the Skills Commission to launch its new report Going Places: innovation in further education and skills in the Houses of Parliament.

The report, which comes after a 10-month inquiry across the UK, focuses on the innovative practices colleges are engaging with up and down the country, and the potential that devolution has for making this innovation more widespread across the system.

Barry Sheerman MP and Dame Ruth Silver said: “Devolution is a striking opportunity to boost regional employers, SMEs and providers’ links, and fill skills gaps specific to regions. Through this inquiry have seen some brilliant new practices in the ever-changing world of FE and skills, and we are calling for government and local authorities to ensure that devolution funding pushes education providers and employers to support one another and respond to regional skills gaps which so badly need resolving.”

Lord Blunkett said: “If devolution deals are going to work, local education and skills need to meet a high standard. Having been involved in local government in the North for over 40 years, I am particularly interested in seeing that devolution for the Northern Powerhouse is tailored around local skills needs, if it is to be successful.

The work of the Skills Commission has highlighted how education providers and employers are pushing ahead for the betterment of their students and local economy’s skills needs. We must take these examples and see that their practices are used as models for local and national provision, and that devolution is adequately funded and has the skills needs of the Northern Powerhouse, Midlands Engine, the industrial strategy and our national economy at its heart.”

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