West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges

16 July 2019

Leeds City Region Skills Network: Partnership grows with biggest conference to date

Over 200 skills providers, local authorities and businesses came together on Friday 5 July for the annual Leeds City Region Skills Network conference – Skills: The Formula for Success. The conference brought together leaders in skills and growth in the Leeds City Region to nurture success and collaboration when it comes to skills.

This year’s event brought more delegates than ever to Cloth Hall Court in Leeds to hear from speakers Kevin Green (ex-HR Director at Royal Mail and current CEO of What’s Next Consultancy), Roger Marsh OBE (Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and NP11), Rashik Parmar (IBM Leader and Chair of the Employment and Skills Panel) and Councillor Hinchcliffe (Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority).

Roger Marsh - “Investing in the region’s young people and listening to the needs of businesses is key to strengthening the Leeds City Region economy. The manufacturing and engineering sector is growing at a rapid rate, yet has an ageing workforce. Our digital businesses are thriving and demanding more skills. Channel 4 has given us global recognition and already we’re seeing the positive effects. We have major construction projects such as HS2 to deliver. It’s time to talk the North up and show the rest of the country that we create opportunities for our young people, we provide our businesses with access to the skills and talent they need and we will continue to increase productivity throughout the region.”Roger Marsh OBE and Rashik Parmar MBE opened the event with their thoughts about the current skills gaps and priority areas in the region. Kevin Green presented his insights into national skills trends and approaches to people development and Cllr Hinchcliffe closed the presentations with an update on the Skills Commission.

Cllr Hinchcliffe - “Our current national skills system is urgently in need of reshaping and the new Future-Ready Skills Commission for a Devolved UK aims to do this. I believe that if we can get the design and operation of our skills system right it can serve as the catalyst for the transformation of skills nationally and ultimately drive strong productivity and growth to our economy. I also think that we all need to champion the Further Education sector which Government has a habit of overlooking when it comes to funding. Further Education colleges provide a ladder of opportunity for everyone, including those who are currently disadvantaged.”

The Leeds City Region Skills Network took this opportunity to showcase the work that skills providers are doing to engage employers through innovation, collaboration and social mobility to improve the skills of the workforce in the Leeds City Region. In addition to showcasing this work the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges presented their European Social Fund projects and how these fit into the region’s skills agenda.

At the end of the conference the presenters took part in a panel, during which the audience had an opportunity to ask questions and spark debate over how the region’s businesses and training experts can collaborate to unleash the potential of the current workforce. There was also a prize giveaway, which saw two lucky members of the audience win Kevin Green’s new book, Competitive People Strategy.

The Leeds City Region Skills Network conference is a unique event boasting a room full of enthusiastic training providers, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and business development professionals, who can support businesses to invest in their own workforce and nurture talent to become sustainable. Projects such as those run by the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges, where business need is aligned to people development programmes, can really make a difference and business owners can take advantage of the opportunities on offer, particularly through The Skills Service.

Nav Chohan, Principal of Shipley College and Chair of the Leeds City Region Skills Network -

“As ever, the education and training sector is going through substantial change. Brexit, demographics and the economy are all factors in making our provision choices crucial to the success of the Leeds City Region. The Skills Network conference is about bringing skills providers together and enhancing our collective view of the future."

The conference is facilitated by the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges who represents the seven colleges in West Yorkshire and brings businesses, organisations and training providers together to deliver workforce training and skills support, funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). These programmes contribute to the economic growth of the Leeds City Region, tackle social mobility and connect the education and business sectors.

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