Skills plan launched to build workforce fit for the future

An action plan to arm a new generation of West Midlanders with the skills needed to drive the industries of tomorrow has been launched by Mayor Andy Street. 

The Regional Skills Plan sets out a clear roadmap for equipping local people with the skills they need to support on-going economic growth across the region. 

Leading employers including Jaguar Land Rover, Balfour Beatty and Deloitte have worked closely with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Cllr George Duggins, its portfolio holder for productivity and skills, in identifying the skills issues that need to be tackled.

Skills plan launched to build workforce fit for the future

Launching the Regional Skills Plan (l-r) Jo Lopes, head of technical excellence at Jaguar land Rover, Cllr George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills, Dr Julie Nugent, WMCA director of productivity and skills, Dr Andy Palmer, president and chief executive officer of Aston Martin Lagonda and Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street

The plan sets out actions to provide

  • More apprentices
  • More investment in technical skills, especially digital
  • A more effective skills and careers system that works for all parts of society 

The plan will bring universities, colleges and other training providers together with business and local government to co-ordinate and match skills to the new jobs being created. 

Initial focus will be on four key sectors of the West Midlands economy – construction, automotive, digital, and business and professional services. 

The Mayor said: “The West Midlands is the UK’s largest regional economy and has a global reputation for innovation and excellence in advanced manufacturing. 

“Our region is growing fast. New organisations and industries are setting up here all the time, joining our existing companies to create the backbone of our future economy. 

“But that means local people need the skills to fill these new jobs and employers are constantly telling us they need more workers with technical and digital skills. 

“This Regional Skills Plan aims to tackle that shortage head on, helping to make sure training and education are matched to the demands of our industries so that our people have skills fit for the future. 

“This will help create a thriving but inclusive economy in which everyone has the opportunity to learn the skills needed to land a decent job and secure a good quality of life.” 

Major companies and training providers have now joined with the WMCA and other public sector bodies in calling on government to back the plan and help the West Midlands become a beacon for a high skilled economy. 

The government has already confirmed it will hand control of the £100 million adult education budget to the region from 2019 and the skills plan will help shape the way that funding can better support local people and business. 

The Regional Skills Plan also builds on the work of the West Midlands Productivity and Skills Commission set up by the WMCA last year and chaired by Dr Andy Palmer, president and chief executive officer of Aston Martin Lagonda. 

The Commission has spent 12 months looking at ways to make the local economy more productive and its workforce more skilled. 

Its report identifies the need for more investment in technical education, more apprentices and better careers advice for young people. 

Cllr Duggins, who is also leader of Coventry City Council, said: “We would like to thank Andy Palmer and the Commission for the expert advice and support given to us over recent months and in helping to shape this skills plan. 

“There is major investment happening across the West Midlands but this growth will only be sustained if we harness our greatest asset – our people. 

“That’s why skills is now our number one priority and why the region’s businesses, education sector and local government are coming together under this plan with a commitment to deliver inclusive growth - giving people the skills needed to land good jobs and careers in the years ahead.” 

Dr Palmer added: “The work undertaken by the West Midlands Productivity and Skills Commission has played a critical role in establishing the evidence base for the Regional Skills Plan and for setting out a new way of working, with employers and skills providers jointly developing new solutions to address skills challenges. 

“I believe that the Commission’s work will make a meaningful difference to the lives of this region’s citizens, employees, businesses and the next generation of young people. I look forward to supporting this ambition as it is taken forward through the Regional Skills Plan and, in the autumn, through the Local Industrial Strategy.”

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