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Higher skills levels mean prosperity & opportunity

People with higher skills levels achieve more at work—they’re more committed, more innovative, more productive, and more confident about taking risks and growing businesses. Low skill levels keep individuals, businesses and the economy on a flat growth curve.

There is a productivity gap between the UK and competitors like France and Germany. Around 20% of that gap is down to the relatively low skills of UK workers. This leads to a low-wage economy, which in turn affects communities in profound ways, including poor health, crime, low aspirations, and lack of engagement.

This page tells you about our Skills policy. To find out about the support we're delivering, please refer to our our raising skills pages (for individuals) and our workforce/skills pages (for employers).

The Leitch Report

In 2006, Lord Leitch published his report, Prosperity for All in the Global Economy: World-Class Skills, examining the UK's long-term skills needs. It set out ambitious goals for 2020 which, if achieved, would make the UK a world leader in skills. The report recommends a far-reaching skills reform agenda: the target is for 40% of the working population to be qualified to level 4 or above. However, our regional analysis suggests that we only have around 27% at that level today. To meet the Leitch target In Yorkshire & Humber, if our economy remained as it is today, we would need an additional 550,000 people in the workforce. Significant intervention, at many levels and from many different partners, is therefore essential.

The regional skills context

Analysis of the region’s skill levels shows that Yorkshire & Humber has significant problems:
  • The current workforce’s skill levels do not match the region’s current or future needs—this hinders prosperity for individuals, businesses and the economy
  • A regional phenomenon dictates that businesses here are less likely to train their employees, and tend to look to the public sector to pay for it. Businesses are failing to see the link between higher skills and opportunities and competitiveness
  • Too few people aspire to, or achieve, high standards of education and skills. This impedes the growth of the knowledge-based economy (required to replace traditional industries)
  • Our Key Account Management team has found that 70% of the issues raised by businesses centre around finding appropriately trained and skilled employees
  • This unfocused supply side, coupled with ill-informed individuals/businesses, will prevent Yorkshire & Humber from being able to respond to future macro-economic opportunities.

What can skills do for people?

Skills mean opportunities, choice, independence and greater prosperity. Passing two A-levels can mean earning 17% more than someone with 5 good GCSE passes. A degree can earn people a further 27%.

What is Yorkshire Forward doing?

Our skills programme focuses on developing the demand for skills: from the economy, from businesses, and from individuals. Our interventions focus efforts at a higher (macro-economic) level, looking at how a more skilled workforce can contribute to reshaping places and competitiveness. We want to:

  • Encourage young people and adults to aim higher, through enhanced skills
  • Encourage businesses to expect more, by developing and harnessing effective skills solutions
  • Stimulate the region’s economic performance.

How do we do this?

  • By working with partners to influence and enhance mainstream education
  • By working with partners to develop the region’s skills offering, and communicating it to businesses and individuals.

By commissioning a programme of higher-level skills, to take advantage of economic opportunities.

Where do we intervene?

Our programme operates at a variety of geographical levels. Work with young people is delivered at local authority level. Higher-level skills are focused on the labour market, and therefore on the city-regions. Business demand is managed through Business Link Yorkshire.

What are some of our priorities?

  • To improve the employability of young people by raising their achievements in English, maths, and skills for the knowledge-based economy (eg science, engineering and languages)
  • To encourage young people to become their own bosses
  • To retain talent and skills in our region, particularly graduates, by helping businesses and graduates find each other
  • To increase leadership abilities, including an understanding of the value of skills
  • To help technicians develop the skills to take on management roles
  • To pilot ‘rising stars’ programmes, developing regional talent and improving management capability.

Who are we working with?

We’re working with local authorities to ensure that plans for children and young people align more closely with regional economic priorities. We’re working to influence businesses and intermediaries, as well as government departments and public agencies (the Learning and Skills Council, skills councils, learndirect, Job Centre Plus, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England). We’re working with the region’s skills boards and higher education institutions, the TUC, Business Link Yorkshire, the Chambers of Commerce, and others.

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