At the beginning of August, the Department for Education (DfE) published their initial “Statutory Guidance for the Development of a Local Skills Improvement Plan” (LSIP). There is clearly a lot that the Government needs to do to promote the plans and recommendations from the Sussex LSIP to introduce improvements for our educational agencies. However, it is encouraging that the extensive work that has been carried out through the Sussex Chamber of Commerce has involved a range of businesses and educational organisations and is still moving very effectively. It is fantastic that the Colleges and Universities in Sussex and the Councils have been playing a key part in these discussions. Along with Sussex Chamber, a range of local Chamber of Commerce’s have worked very hard to connect with their local businesses. The Sussex LSIP organisation started in last October and in January the DfE published a document called “Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth” which was introduced by Gavin Williamson who was then the Minister and after he had written his comments, the first words in the document were
This White Paper sets out how we will reform further education so it supports people to get the skills our economy needs throughout their lives, wherever they live in the country. Focusing post-16 skills on this core mission will increase productivity, support growth industries, and give individuals opportunities to progress in their careers. We will deliver this focus on jobs and growth by putting employers at the heart of the system so that education and training leads to jobs that can improve productivity and fill skills gaps.
By January the Sussex LSIP agency had already contacted many of our local organisations and they had carried out a lot of the initial work. Indeed a few days later in the House of Commons the MP for Hastings and Rye, Sally-Ann Hart was speaking in a discussion under the headline of “Education (Careers Guidance in Schools) Bill” and as part of a longer statement she stated
I am delighted that East Sussex College in Hastings was part of the successful Sussex-wide application under the skills accelerator programme for a joint local skills improvement plan and strategic development fund pilot. I have been listening in to some of the LSIP virtual meetings to go through the various areas, including manufacturing and engineering, and it is fascinating to see the research and evidence that they have built up.
It was very encouraging that she spoke about that issue in Parliament and it is rather disappointing that our other Sussex MPs have not yet referred to the LSIP work that is being carried out in their constituencies. Earlier on two of our local MPs were Ministers in the DfE agency but they are no longer in that Department. However, the Chamber of Commerce has connected with all of the Sussex MPs on several occasions since they began to do the LSIP work and it would be fantastic if some of the other MPs would be willing to speak about it when Parliament reopens in September. Just before Parliament closed down this Summer an MP asked a question and Andrea Jenkyns, a DfE Minister stated
The introduction of the new Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIP) will forge closer and more dynamic relationships between employers and colleges as they work together to meet an area’s technical skills needs. The eight LSIP Trailblazers engaged a range of employers and skills providers, helping to forge relationships and networks that had not previously existed. We are making good progress on the next stage of rolling out LSIP across the country, and we expect to designate the first tranche of employer representative bodies to lead on the development of the plans in the early autumn. The rollout of LSIP will build on the excellent provider and employer collaboration that has been built upon through apprenticeships, T Levels and our other skills reforms.
Her reference to the eight trailblazers implied the work by the Sussex group although of course there are now many more areas that have adopted this very important issue for their location. A couple of weeks after she made her statement in Parliament, her department published the most recent document and the beginning of their introduction was related to the January document with
The Skills for Jobs White Paper set out an ambitious plan to put employers more firmly at the heart of the skills system to help ensure businesses and people have the skills they need to thrive and progress. LSIPs are a key part of achieving this aim.
It is vital that along with asking our local MPs to promote the Sussex LSIP that the Government must endorse our proposals and that we will see a significant growth in the educational setting here in our area.