SELEP launches plans to build skills for future growth

News Posted 28/09/18
A new five-year strategy to develop the skilled workforce needed to help the South East continue to grow and play its vital role in the UK economy has been launched by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP).

Developed with local businesses and education providers and supporting the government’s Industrial Strategy and new national Careers Strategy, the SELEP blueprint is an employer and evidence-led statement of the skills and employment priorities needed to drive productivity and growth across the LEP area.

The strategy was launched at the official opening of the new Construction Skills Centre at Folkestone College in Kent by Damian Collins MP, which has received £1.36m of Local Growth Fund support via SELEP.

Speaking at the event, Christian Brodie, chair of SELEP, said: “It’s really apt that we are holding this in Folkestone College, part of EKC Group. This is one of many centres we have invested in to ensure we have the right infrastructure to deliver.

“We are clear on the fundamental role played by skills in responding to current and future growth across our LEP area. The strategy has received strong backing by our local business and skills boards as well as our Strategic Board and so is a clear articulation of our shared ambitions and commitment to this agenda.

“The challenge is considerable but so is the opportunity and we are confident in our ability to deliver given the commitment we all share.”

The South East LEP, which covers East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway Southend and Thurrock, is the biggest in the country with a population of 4.2 million forecast to grow to 5 million by 2030and is home to both prosperous and deprived communities.

Christian added: “We have rural and urban areas, internationally significant companies and burgeoning SMEs. Sectors such as manufacturing, construction, IT, digital, creative, finance health, care and logistics are huge employers and on a scale larger than that of most other LEP areas.

“These sectors offer a vast range of job opportunities and will continue to do so, and it is vital that we ensure a pipeline of skilled people to respond.”

The strategy sets out a series of priorities, including:

  • Increase apprenticeships and industry relevant qualifications for all ages, particularly in priority sectors and at higher and degree level
  • Simplify the skills landscape for employers, stakeholders and individuals
  • Build an inclusive economy and provide employment opportunities for all
  • Raise awareness of jobs and growth across SELEP and the area’s size, scale, national and international significance
  • Foster and support the spirit of pride, entrepreneurship, innovation and enthusiasm across SELEP to bring about change

The event also saw the opening of the college’s new construction skills centre by Damian Collins MP.

Graham Razey, principal of East Kent College Group and chair of the SELEP Skills Advisory Group, played a leading role in the development of the Skills Strategy.

He said: “It’s fantastic to be opening our Construction Extension as part of the South East LEP’s Skills Strategy launch.

“This huge project has been made a reality through the SELEP’s funding stream and will enable EKC Group to drive the development of skills which we know the local and regional economy needs to continue in its growth.

“The new facility will help Folkestone College teach young people in the communities we serve the skills they need to access the employment market.

“We are particularly pleased to be able to teach heritage construction skills as part of our construction study programmes at Folkestone College. This will help develop the next generation of skilled employees for the renovation and maintenance to buildings of historic significance.

“This not only supports this important construction area, but also East Kent’s vibrant tourism sector.”

The Skills Strategy 2018-2023 is available to view at www.southeastlep.com

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