West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges

5 February 2018

Closing the higher skills gap - National conference comes to Leeds

A conference bringing together leaders in business, education, academia and policy to look at ways to improve technical and vocational education takes place in Leeds this February.

The West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges (WYCC), which represents seven colleges in the area will host an event led by UCL Institute of Education (IOE), a world leading centre for research and teaching in education and social science.

The event takes place on Wednesday 7 February at Leeds City College, Printworks Campus and also involves the Education Training Foundation (ETF) and East Midlands Further Education Council (EMFEC).

The conference will explore ways to improve technical and vocational education in the context of devolved regional planning. The delegates will also discuss how to build better partnership working between employers and educators. The ultimate aim is to enhance regional skills planning and delivery in order to improve productivity, and work towards closing the skills gap that exists in the UK.

Delegates and speakers from across the country will give their opinions and share experiences on working in partnership with other organisations. The Consortium’s strong links with education and employers meant they could invite a selection of delegates who will provide a representative voice for the Leeds City Region along with key national figures.

Paul Grainger, Co-Director of Centre for (Post 14) Education and Work at IOE said,

“We are working on some significant research into regional skills systems and are particularly interested in the role of national colleges in relation to regional requirements. We want to open the discussion with colleges, employers and regional policy leads into their relationships and methods when it comes to developing higher level technical skills.

“The choice of Leeds is, in part, to capture some of the energy around the Northern Powerhouse and in part because of the excellent strategic use made of Labour Market Intelligence by the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges.”

Alison Morris, Director for Sector Development at ETF said,

“We are delighted to be involved with this conference. Regional and national employer-provider partnerships are vital in building a strong and robust technical education system, and the collaboration between the ETF and partner organisations has supported a comprehensive exploration of some of the key issues.”

In addition to educators from the region, delegates include representatives from the Social Mobility Commission, UK construction group Robertson and Bradford based employers Freeman Grattan Holdings.

Ian Billyard, Chair of the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges and Principal at Leeds College of Building said,

“Colleges’ engagement with industry is becoming more critical to the future success of the sector. This can be seen in two major policy initiatives: Apprenticeships and the new T Levels which, as part of the course, require students to have a significant period in industry in preparation for transition into employment or Apprenticeships.”

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