Education and skills shape a place. They provide the foundation for its economic personality, set the tone for its industrial and social mix, and contribute to its overall prosperity, providing the foundation for both growth and equity. We know that the most successful places and prosperous communities are underpinned by strong educational and skills performance; with those areas with the highest appetite for learning and the ability to harness such talent being those that most thrive.
The Heart of the South West is no different. Its economy is shaped and led by the skills of its residents and businesses. The skills of its workforce underpin its economic potential; whether through providing the essential technical skills which drive high-value engineering and manufacturing; the insight and innovation that fuel our knowledge economy and the work of its universities; or providing the day-to-day leadership of small and micro businesses that form the backbone of every community. Supported by its strong schools, colleges and universities, as well as a network of dedicated private training providers and active employers, the area has real depth in its capacity to harness its skills and training capacity, and through doing so improved prosperity.
Over the past 18 months, the Heart of the South West Skills Advisory Panel (‘SAP’) has brought partners together to address these shared challenges; working in unison to understand how we can improve skills outcomes for all, and champion shared approaches, projects and investments that will make a difference. SAP and Local Enterprise Partnership (‘LEP’) working has already done much to progress skills uptake, promote aspiration and delivery opportunities over the past few years. Building on the strong partnership ethos already in place between business, skills providers and wider stakeholders within the Heart of the South West we believe that there is more progress that can now be made on this crucial agenda.
The Heart of the South West Local Skills Report sets out the next step on that journey. It provides a shared skills blueprint for the area with a single vision at its heart, that every individual in the Heart of the South West should be able to access the skills they need to thrive in a productive job they value, supporting businesses, inclusion and growth.