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Solace blog

6th July 2017

Skills and local economic growth: Putting the focus where it needs to be

By Martin Swales, Chief Executive of South Tyneside MBC and Solace spokesperson for Economic Growth and Housing

This week at a joint Solace and Prospects Industrial Strategy & Skills Fringe Event at the LGA Conference, Solace launched a new paper that sets out some of our initial thinking on skills and local economic growth. The session was very well received and attended, and sparked an interesting discussion.

The paper, launched as an initial position statement open for consultation, was developed by Tom Stannard, Director of Economy and Skills at Oldham Council and Solace Deputy Spokesperson for Economic Growth, with significant and valuable input from colleagues across the sector as well as our private sector partners Prospects, Lloyds and Grant Thornton.

The position statement sets out a number of the skills and employment challenges facing local authorities. It also provides some practical advice for those working in our sector. The paper allows Solace to invite further contributions that will shape the debate whilst also providing a platform to share examples of regional and local best practice.

Achieving the right skills outcomes will enable our local economies to grow successfully. The proposals set out in the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper published earlier this year, recognised the importance of the skills agenda to the country’s economic growth prospects.

The skills and employment landscape has significantly changed over recent years and navigating this complex area is challenging.

Local Authorities have a central role in charting a route through these complex systems to deliver growth within local areas, whilst also supporting stakeholders including providers, employers, and individuals. In order to build strong local economies, it is vital that stakeholder partnerships work to create a steady supply of jobs and training to help individuals thrive.

This is the discussion we started during the launch event. Now we need to build on the work, strengthening our capacity and knowledge to better understand and develop strategies that support Solace Members with practical advice and practice-based case studies.

By strengthening our capacity and understanding of the system at a local level, we will be better placed to influence and drive partnerships that improve skills and employment outcomes and to help secure sustainable and inclusive growth locally and nationally.

Solace is keen to further discuss how to develop these ideas. This paper was produced as an initial position statement open for consultation, and I would encourage you to provide views and feedback, as well as further examples of practice.