Our voice of business this month is:

John Browning, Local Skills Improvement Plan Manager, Bucks Skills Hub

During January and February groups of employers and training providers have been coming together in different industry sectors to develop the Buckinghamshire Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP). This is a major government initiative intended to reshape post-16 technical education and training across England. Buckinghamshire Business First has been appointed by the Department for Education to be the designated Employer Representative Body (ERB) for Buckinghamshire and to develop the Local Skills Improvement Plan. The plan will set out key priorities and changes needed to post-16 technical education and training in order that it can be more responsive to local labour market needs. It is a great opportunity for businesses in Buckinghamshire to have a say in how we train and develop our workforce in the county.

Buckinghamshire Business First have been hosting a series of employer briefing events designed as initial introductions to the LSIP, the background to selecting the priority sectors and themes, and an overview of exactly how employers can engage with the process. The first of these employer briefings took place on January 11th, focusing on the Film & TV sector. This event, which was facilitated by All Spring Media, brought together Buckinghamshire-based businesses and representatives from the BBC, Amazon and Disney to begin the work of aligning local skills needs with local skills training. Film & TV is one of five sectors identified as a priority under the LSIP. The others are: engineering, construction, health & social care and digital.  Priority sectors were selected on the basis of their importance to the Buckinghamshire economy, number of employees and future growth potential. In addition, we have identified a need to look at three cross-cutting skills themes: digital literacy, i.e. general IT skills needed by everybody; work-readiness, which is about preparing education leavers for the workplace; and “green skills” – the skills people will need to adopt to meet our net zero ambitions.

Employer briefings have taken place for the construction, engineering and digital sectors, as well as a briefing event for training providers. These events have been invaluable for drawing out the key issues for each sector, as well as for our cross-cutting themes.

We are reaching the end of the first stage of the three-stage process for the Local Skills Improvement Plan. The next step involves brining employers and training providers together to work on solutions to the challenges identified.

The LSIP is a three-year plan which will require the commitment of employers and education and training providers across the county. It will be backed up by a Local Skills Improvement Fund which will enable providers to bid for the funding needed to make the changes identified in the plan. Buckinghamshire Business First will be submitting their priorities to the Department for Education at the end of March 2023, and then potential solutions and changes required by the end of May 2023.