Agenda item

Employment and Skills Strategy

Report of Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills      

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills regarding the production of a draft Employment and Skills Strategy for Staffordshire (schedule 1 to the signed minutes).

 

The Strategy set out the Authority’s vision for Staffordshire’s workforce and identified priorities aimed at better equipping them to meet future economic challenges and thrive in a pioneering and dynamic County. It supported the delivery of the County’s Economic Strategy which had been adopted in March 2022 covering the period to 2030.

 

Members heard that the Vision was:-

 

“Developing local skills which enable more people to access higher value, better paid jobs across a wide range of priority and locally important sectors, to help deliver a diverse, inclusive and sustainable economy acrossStaffordshire”; and;

 

the mission for local employment and skills stakeholders was to:-

 

“Create strong and effective partnerships which support our people to gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to achieve their ambitions and play a productive role in the growth of the Staffordshire economy”.

 

The five priorities identified in the draft Strategy were:- “(i) Ensuring All Are Work Ready and Can Access Employment; (ii) Providing Inspirational Careers Advice; (iii) Developing Technical Skills to Drive Productivity and Growth; (iv) Supporting Innovation and Enterprise and; (v) Creating a Place of Learning”.

 

Members heard that the draft Strategy had been subject to a four week public/partner consultation period during which positive feedback had been received with 87% of respondents either ‘strongly agreeing’ or ‘agreeing’ with the above-mentioned vision and 91% either ‘strongly agreeing’ or ‘agreeing’ with the Priorities. In addition, ongoing input and positive feedback was being received from key partners through forums including the Stoke-on-Trent, and Staffordshire Enterprise Partnership Skills Advisory Panel and College Principals Group etc.

 

The proposed delivery approach for the Strategy was to:- (i) work in partnership to lever and align public sector investment; (ii) match and maximise public and private sector investment e.g., Apprenticeship Levy; (iii) work with government on the opportunities for more powers and funding through devolution e.g., Adult Education Budget; (iv) maximise employer investment in skills and involvement in the design of skills provision and; (v) shape and influence the strategic commissioning of other funds and priorities e.g., HS2, West Midlands Freight Interchange, A50 A500 Strategic Corridor, the Local Skill Improvement Plan as a route to delivering technical skills.

 

During the full and wide-ranging discussion which ensued, Members gave detailed scrutiny to the draft Strategy, asking questions, seeking clarification and raising areas of concern as necessary including:- (i) the extent of partnership working which had taken place with Agricultural Colleges in the development of the Strategy; (ii) how the specific needs of disadvantaged and under represented groups were to be met under the Strategy; (iii) the potential impact of fast evolving areas of new technology eg Artificial Intelligence and how this had been addressed by the Strategy; (iv) new high-tech industry in the County and how it could be better supported by measures contained in the Strategy and; (v) engagement with year 10/11 school pupils prior to taking their GCSE Options.

 

In response to a request by the Committee the Cabinet Member undertook to explore how the County Council’s engagement with school pupils (including those with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND)) wishing to undertake work experience placements could be improved having regard to the various ambitions contained in the draft Strategy.

 

In conclusion, Members welcomed the draft Strategy and looked forward to continued positive performance by Staffordshire in attracting inward investment, developing local skills and improving the workforce’s qualifications so that the priorities contained in their Strategic Plan could be effectively met.

 

RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.

 

(b) That the Cabinet Member have regard to the various comments made by the Committee in finalising Staffordshire’s Employment and Skills Strategy 2023-2030.

 

(c)  That the Cabinet Member explore how the County Council’s engagement with school pupils (including those with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND)) wishing to undertake work experience placements could be improved having regard to the various ambitions contained in the Strategy.

 

(d) That the Committee receive a progress update on implementation of the Strategy in six-months’ time taking into consideration their other Work Programme priorities.         

      

Supporting documents: