Over 120 delegates attended a HE/FE Summit organised by Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH). The event, was aimed at building on existing collaborative work between local businesses and civic leaders working together with the academic community to drive sustainable economic growth and create local jobs. PUSH has established an employer led Employment and Skills Board that is driving forward the employment and skills agenda and has an ambition to increase the proportion of its residents with the highest skills.
In 2010 a number of events with the business community were organised by PUSH, this event on 28 January was one of the first major event to be hosted in the area since the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership was given the green light by Government in November 2010. Anne Marie-Mountifield, PUSH’s Executive Director provided background to the work and the objectives of the Solent LEP. It builds on the work that has been undertaken by PUSH to involve partners in planning the future growth of the sub region.
Key note speakers included the Minister of Universities and Science, David Willetts MP and Huw Chapman from PALL Europe. The minister spoke about government’s plans to increase the quality of education with particular reference to the changes being planned for Higher Education. He spoke about a need for better linkages with between educations providers and businesses and he acknowledged the high level of deprivation that was still prevalent in some parts of South Hampshire.
Huw Chapman gave an employers views, he cited that the availability of skills set of local labour market as one of the most important factors that will be considered by companies looking to relocate in the area. He stated that companies look for people with core competencies for the job at whatever level they are in the organisation. He stated there was a need for better engagement of businesses and education providers.
At the event, PUSH’s refreshed economic development strategy was launched.
The strategy sets out a vision for the future which includes a higher level of employment in the sub region and greater levels of participation amongst the local work force so that the benefits of growth are open to local residents.
Debra Humphris, Chair of the PUSH ESB said:
“This event was a great success as it brought local businesses and civic leaders with the academic community to focus on employment and skills. Much progress has already been made since the establishment of the ESB. Examples of targeted activity include supporting skills shortage in the marine sector through the apprenticeship expansion pilot as well as the multi-agency responses to delivering more successful pathways back to employment through the future jobs fund. Much of the Board’s efforts will include strengthening local business partnerships between employers and Higher Education Institutions, further education and schools; promoting graduate retention from our four Universities in the sub region.”
Councillor Seán Woodward, Chairman of PUSH, said:
“ PUSH is keen to ensure that the Economic Development Strategy is delivered in collaboration with our private sector partners and see an important role for the Employment and Skills Board(ESB) in driving forward the agreed priorities and actions which will help improve skills levels and deliver a more balanced and sustainable pattern of growth to ensure that local residents are equipped to take up the jobs created. We want to encourage businesses in our region to take an active role in shaping the future agenda in capturing and building on existing strengths as well as opportunities.”
Some of the major issues identified at the summit include
better communication between business, training providers and young people
need to retain local talent
greater engagement with Small and Medium sized enterprises
support the development and expansion of the apprenticeship programme
PUSH ESB will consider the outcomes of the summit and develop an action plan to respond to the issues and challenge raised. The Hampshire Chamber of Commerce played a key role in the organisation of the event.