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Lancashire businesses are being urged to take advantage of a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to put employers’ skills needs at the heart of local college technical courses.

The call comes from the CEO of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, which has started gathering evidence for the Lancashire Local Skills Improvement Plan, after being selected by the Department of Education to be a national Local Skills Improvement Plan Trailblazer.

The North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce is one of eight UK Chambers of Commerce appointed to spearhead the government-led initiative. LSIPs are hoped to address concerns that employers to not have enough influence over courses and skills offered in local area and struggle to find skilled employees.

The North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, working in partnership with the East Lancashire Chamber and supported by Lancaster Chamber, is aiming to gather evidence from over 10,000 businesses to develop a clear plan of what skills provision is required in Lancashire.

Lancashire companies can have their say by completing the Employer Skills Survey, which will help the Chambers gain a deeper understanding as to where the skills gaps exist and where further investigatory work will need to be undertaken.

Babs Murphy, CEO of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, which has over 1,600 members in the county, said: “This is all about placing employers at the heart of defining local skills needs and it’s a one in a generation opportunity for Lancashire businesses to have their say.

“When the Chamber delivers this support, engaging with thousands of businesses, the county will have an evidence-based skills audit of a sort never seen before. It will ensure future skills delivered by colleges of further education actually match what firms require and deserve in the future.

“This will be a genuinely transformative approach to dealing with long-term skills gaps, improving productivity and increasing opportunity for Lancashire people.”

Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) were proposed as elements of the government’s Skills for Jobs White Paper, published in January 2021, which is now referred to as the Skills Accelerator. It also includes the Strategic Development Fund (SDF), a £65m investment to help colleges in the implement some of the strategic priorities set out in the local skills improvement plan.

In Lancashire, the SDF will be led by Myerscough College on behalf of The Lancashire Colleges (TLC).

Lancashire’s plan will be submitted to the Department of Education by March 31 2022 to help the government determine whether Local Skills Improvement Plans is the best method to shape UK skills provision.

Complete the survey here.

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