Introduction David Ralph, HotSW LEP CEO
Welcome to our April newsletter. Spring has well and truly sprung now, and we are delighted to see the continued lifting of restrictions. In the South West, the COVID-19 infection rates are still among the lowest in the country, which is great news for our area, and hopefully provides additional reassurance for our tourism and hospitality sectors as they start opening up further.
Following last month’s Budget, the Chancellor and Business Secretary have written an open letter to businesses detailing the Government’s Plan for Growth. This outlines the key pillars of investment the Government will focus on to make 2021 ‘the year of economic recovery’.
The plan builds on the Industrial Strategy and refreshes their long-term strategy for growth in the current economic landscape. It focuses on three pillars of investment around infrastructure, skills and innovation. It also sets out three priority objectives: levelling up; a transition to net zero; a vision for Global Britain.
The HotSW LEP has also now published its own Plan to Build Back Better, which very much aligns with the Government’s objectives. It sets out the key transformational opportunities that will unlock investment, create jobs and deliver carbon net zero. Seven major programmes of activity are identified that will accelerate those opportunities, underpinned by a further four enabling programmes to provide the environment needed to support them – around skills, business support, innovation and infrastructure. You can read more about our plan in the news story below.
In other news, the Government has begun its latest LEP review, which it is aiming to complete before summer recess. Officials have emphasised that this is about an evolution of LEPs and their role. The review will focus on four key workstreams of: objectives and functions; geographies and accountabilities; representation and interaction with local government; implementation and funding.
We are already gearing up for what this change to operating models and funding might mean, as the emphasis of our work shifts somewhat away from administering large funding pots such as our Local Growth Fund, and more onto delivering the transformational opportunities as set out in our Build Back Better plan and the development and delivery of our Clean Growth priorities to support our area’s net zero targets. We will be releasing further details about our Clean Growth plan over the next few weeks.
How the Heart of the South West can build back better
The HotSW LEP has now released its Plan to Build Back Better. The ambitious plan has been developed in consultation with business and the 16 local authority, four university and 10 FE college partners.
It identifies a number of transformational opportunities that will enable the area to recover from COVID-19 and deliver prosperity and resilience through clean and inclusive growth.
How to Build Back Better was discussed last week in an online forum hosted by SW Business Insider, with a panel featuring HotSW LEP executive chairman, Karl Tucker, Sally Basker, Exeter Science Park chief executive, Gravity’s director of planning and economic development, Claire Pearce, and SW CBI’s regional director Ben Rhodes. If you missed it, you can watch the recorded hour-long session here.READ THE FULL PLAN HERE
Local skills report released
The HotSW Local Skills Report released this month provides a shared skills blueprint for the area. It has 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.
Despite the area’s capacity to learn, too many people are still failing to reach their full potential. The level of those holding a higher-level qualification or working in a professional occupation within the area remains below the national average, and the number of people undertaking technical qualifications continues to be lower than the number of opportunities on offer.
Over the past 18 months, the HotSW Skills Advisory Panel has brought partners together to address these shared challenges and work in unison to improve skills outcomes for all.READ FULL REPORT
New ticket office opens at Taunton Station
A new ticket office at Taunton Station has welcomed travellers for the first time, marking a significant milestone in the completion of the multi-million pound station regeneration.
Great Western Railway is working with the HotSW LEP, Somerset County Council and Somerset West and Taunton Council to deliver the scheme, designed to support the town’s economic development plans.
Improvements include the new ticket office, station entrance and forecourt with additional bike spaces, and a new multi-storey car park. An improved bus and taxi interchange and easier access to the town centre and Firepool development will all help improve the visitor experience for people visiting the town by train.
The programme has received funding from the LEP’s Local Growth Fund and Getting Building Fund.READ MORE
Virtual jobs fairs to connect highly skilled digital learners with employers
The HotSW LEP Digital Skills Partnership has announced the first of their Train4Tomorrow virtual jobs fairs will take place on May 26th.
The virtual event will connect hundreds of newly trained and highly skilled digital and technical learners with employers across the South West, as well as giving employers the opportunity to showcase their businesses
Employers can register for free to attend for a half or full day, to host a virtual table at the jobs fair, where learners can find out about their business, have an informal chat and set up interview opportunities.READ MORE
Heart of the South West Growth Hub's Newsletter
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Launch of South West Tech Daily
Congratulations to the team behind South West Tech Daily – the region’s first ever technology news site for the area. This is a great addition to the local news platforms.
Swtechdaily.co.uk will draw on a network of journalists, experts and partners from across the region to produce news, interviews, opinion pieces and insight. The thriving technology clusters, hubs and science parks around the South West will provide inspiration for coverage.VISIT THE WEBSITE