Attendees of the annual Leeds City Region Skills Network conference heard from key figures in the region and networked with others in the industry using a new digital conference platform provided by the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges in July.
Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and NP11, opened the regional session by paying tribute to all aspects of the skills sector for ensuring that people have continued to learn during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Roger – “It’s always been important that we have a skilled and flexible workforce to drive the economy and it’s even more important now as we contemplate the recovery for the region.”
Roger also discussed the importance of inclusivity within the skills sector and the region’s economy. This was reiterated by other speakers, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe (Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority) and Rashik Parmar (IBM Fellow and Vice President Technology).
(left to right - Roger Marsh OBE, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Rashik Parmar MBE - LCRSN conference 2020)
The West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges (WYCC) decided it was pertinent to continue with the regional conference despite COVID-19 restrictions, moving it online and making it more accessible to a wider audience. Using virtual event technology, WYCC provided an app through which delegates could network with each other via virtual meet ups and message boards.
The app also provided delegates with a digital agenda, speaker profiles, polls and live Q&A. The new technology was a first for most attendees and it provided a way of connecting with each other whilst viewing a mixture of live and pre-recorded content at their own pace.
Nav Chohan, Chair of the Leeds City Region Skills Network and WYCC – “It was a bold move to opt for an online environment for the conference, using a platform that was new to most people. But the point of the conference, bringing members of the skills provider network together, was achieved. In this brave new world, perhaps this is the future.”
300 people registered to attend the conference, making it the biggest one yet, proving the current appetite to work together and develop the region’s skills at this difficult time.
Louise Tearle, Partnership Director at the WYCC – “We were very pleased to be able to host the 10th annual conference, which despite all the challenges, brought together the largest number of people yet to discuss how to achieve the shared ambition of improving the skills of individuals and businesses, and support the economic recovery.”
In a pre-conference survey, delegates were asked to share their thoughts on the skills most needed by employers in the Leeds City Region:
With change and resilience being a hot topic in the skills sector at the time, WYCC invited keynote speaker Jim Lawless to deliver an exciting session on making “Bold Change Fast” in order to stay resilient. Jim drew on his past experiences in using his own rapid change techniques to beat records and push boundaries, showing how this could be applied in the skills sector to adapt to the changing landscape.
The Leeds City Region Skills Network conference was organised by the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges (WYCC) and funded by the European Social Fund. WYCC provided an update on their projects, which support employers and skills providers in the region with funding, training and advice. For more information on these projects visit www.westyorkshirecolleges.ac.uk
Watch the WYCC presentation for the conference below