Agenda item

Skills & Talent - update


The Chair welcomed Jane Lewis to the meeting. Jane Lewis provided Members with an update on the Skills & Talent Project.


The purpose of the programme is to ensure that there is a skilled workforce in the region to meet the needs of the new projects being developed and delivered within the City Deal.


The officer were highlighted the improvement in the figures of persons with no qualification from 2019 to 2020. 


Members were reminded of the Skills and Talent objectives which includes 2,200 additional skills and supporting the development of at least 14,000 skills in individuals (levels 2-77), 3000 new apprenticeship opportunities, working with schools to create a career pathway from school education to higher/further education and apprenticeships in the key areas of digital, construction, energy, smart manufacturing and life science/wellbeing. Also to create 2 centres of excellence. To achieve this pilot projects will be developed to resolve issues where gaps in skills are identified.


To date a programme manager has been appointed who has engaged with the City Deal projects to identify skills needs and gaps. A skills barometer will be completed by mid-February. It is currently with external consultants who are verifying the data and any new trends that are happening in sectors which will impact on the future skills needs of the region.


A Skills Solution Group has been established to identify skills gaps across the region. In addition, a Provide Group has also been established to deliver solutions to the skills gaps identified.


Project ideas are being developed to identify projects to meet the skills needs. There is planned engagement with head teacher forums for 14-19 co-ordinators in each Local Authority Area so see how skills can be developed in these areas to meet the future needs of the projects.


In the next six months another Gateway Review will be undertaken following completion of the Barometer. There will also be wider engagement with schools and colleges regarding the skills needs identified by the Barometer. There will be approval of projects to deliver skills training and upskilling across the 5 key areas identified and further upskilling opportunities will be developed. There is also the planned creation of the apprenticeship opportunities.


Members queried where the funding for the project will be utilised. The results of the Barometer will show the direction that the project needs to go in. The funding needs to be utilised to develop new courses and fit the needs of the projects that are being developed under the City Deal. There is a large amount of interest in the funding to develop sources from schools, colleges, private sector delivers of training and higher education. There will be a set of criteria to ensure that courses which are provided are not duplicated.


Members expressed their concern about the timing of the project in that many of the projects are already up and running. The Deal is currently in year 5 of 15 and Members were concerned that the skills would not be in place for the completion of the projects.


Members were keen to understand how the upskilling part of the project is being led. The Regional Learning and Skills Partnership has been working with businesses across the whole region the last 10 years. Cluster groups are in place for each of the priority sectors across the region to ensure that they are aware of the plan for the specific sectors and the skills needs.


The Construction Centre of Excellence is currently being discussed between the colleges and universities within the region. It will likely come about without the involvement of the city deal programme.  There is a potential for a Centre of Excellence around wind and tidal energy. This will likely come about at the end of the programme. Members queried when physical manifestation of the centre is likely.


Members sought clarity with regards to funding and the funding allocation at the outset of the project. The total budget is £30million - £10million is from the City Deal and there is £20million match funding which includes £4million from the private sector and £16million from the public sector.


Members queried the effect of the pandemic on the private sector funding. The private sector contribution was the employment of the apprenticeship opportunities created through the contracts and also use of their facilities for training. Officers confirmed that the pandemic has not affected the £4million private funding.


Members queried how the upskilling element of the project will work in terms of the schools. Officers have been attending head teacher forums in Neath Port Talbot to ensure that secondary schools are aware of the City Deal and the Skills & Talent Programme. Also, to discuss how the Skills & Talent Project can work with the new curriculum. Discussions are taking place in terms of how the project can upskill the teachers to ensure that these skills can be delivered into the schools. Further to look at other qualifications within schools that are not examined under WJEC.


The £30million is not capital funding. Members queried if cash grants are available? Officers confirmed grants will be allocated to schools, colleges, higher-education and work-based employers. Not to individuals directly. Members queried if the project works with sole-traders. Officers confirmed that cluster groups would be able to apply for funding to upskills workers and where the training would come from should be outlined in their application.


Members thanked the officer for the update on the project.


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