A report and toolkit from Think describe learning from the development of the first nationwide set of Local Skills Improvement Plans.
Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) were introduced following the Skills for Jobs white paper (2021), as part of the government’s plan to put, “local employers at the heart of developing skills provision to meet the needs of their businesses, ensuring that people get the right skills to get good local jobs” (Secretary of State for Education, 2023). Across England, 38 Employer Representative Bodies (ERBs) have developed LSIP reports for their local areas. These reports were published in August 2023.
The consultancy group Think was supported by the Gatsby Foundation to offer facilitation for ERBs during this process, including workshops, briefings and webinars, and 1-2-1 engagement with a small number of ERBs. A short report proposes four key areas of learning identified through this work:
1. LSIP research should ask employers about recruitment difficulties
Further insight is needed into recruitment difficulties relating to occupational skills shortages. Additional focus in this area will help ensure that technical education can better meet skills needs, in part by supporting providers to further consider the wider remit of mainstream technical education beyond the opportunities offered by the Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF).
2. Better use of occupational maps to support definition of strategic priorities
Work with ERBs suggests that the identification of strategic priorities mapped to IfATE occupational routes would be beneficial in helping to focus an LSIP and support more directed engagement. This would help to generate insights into key industry occupational skill shortages and needs.
3. Increase ERB capacity
The ERB staff involved in the LSIP process were skilled in employer engagement and research, however it was sometimes challenging to translate the results of this initial work into achievable priorities and an implementation roadmap for the LSIP. In some cases staff appreciated support to build understanding of the technical education landscape and existing provision, in order to inform effective engagement with providers and mapping of priorities better linked to provider specialisms.
4. Clarity for reporting and implementation
Further clarity is needed on whether recent statutory and formal processes designed to ensure local skills needs are met will result in the LSIP priorities being delivered, or whether ERBs’ implementation plans are also needed to ensure this.