Tackling the skills gap – Call for Evidence from NHC members

Unemployment rates are generally on the decline, however in our buoyant labour market, skills shortage vacancies present a growing challenge for employers, local economies and communities. According to the Employer Skills Survey 2015, 6% of all employers have at least one skill shortage. This is a significant increase from 4% back in 2013.

Tackling the skills gap is one of the key priorities for getting more people into work and to help cities attract businesses and jobs. This is a major focus of the devolution deals, with the majority highlighting Employment & Skills as a priority.

The skills system is, therefore, an interesting tool to help identify what central government and local areas need to work together effectively in the devolution deals process. This will in turn achieve a clearer, consistent and localised approach.

Outlook 2016, published by the Centre for Cities last month, argues that “in order for the Chancellor to achieve his objective of a ‘higher wage, low-welfare’ economy in Britain, as set out in the Summer Budget 2015, he will need to vary his approach across the country. To deal with increases in welfare spending in recent years the focus will need to be on addressing housing shortages in high-wage areas. Meanwhile in low-wage areas, to tackle both low-pay and high-welfare, the focus needs to be on boosting jobs and skills.”

Improving employability will lead to more growth and less spending on welfare, devolving employment and skills to local areas is important in tackling some of the challenges faced by groups and working with local employers to ensure the right skills are in place. The appetite for greater devolution from cities and local areas reflects their understanding of the importance of local flexibility in meeting these needs.

As part of the NHC’s wider work programme around employment & skills, the first stage of which includes gathering evidence and intelligence from members, we would like to hear from members on the approaches your organsiations and your local partners are adopting or planning to tackle the skills gap including:

  • Partners around the table
  • Engagement with employers and education sector
  • What key skills are required by local employers?
  • What approaches are you and your partners adopting to fill the skills gap and raise skill levels now and in the future?
  • What evaluation processes are in place or carried out to date?

The NHC is aware of some of the pilots and great work underway across the North to tackle the skills gap, and will be engaging with the pilots.

If you would like to find out more or submit any information on the above, please contact satty.rai@northern-consortium.org.uk