Suffolk/Norfolk: New Anglia LEP chairman targets ‘joined up’ approach to skills

New Anglia LEP's Growth! confence, held at the Green Britain Centre in Swaffham

New Anglia LEP's Growth! confence, held at the Green Britain Centre in Swaffham - Credit: Archant

The chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership said yesterday it was time to end the confusion over skills training in the region and forge a joined up approach between employers, colleges, and training providers.

Speaking during the New Anglia LEP “Growth!” conference in Swaffham yesterday, Andy Wood outlined plans for a “skills summit” in the summer in an attempt to forge a more joined up approach, bringing together businesses, schools, colleges, and policymakers.

And he said he was hoping to pull together industry leaders to try to help tackle an issue which is causing confusion and frustration among some bosses.

“I see lots of great work – the college principals get it, Job Centre Plus gets it,” he said. “But across these programmes, an overall coherence is lacking. That’s not a message for anybody working in this are that their work isn’t valued, it is.

“Everybody gets the need for improving the skills of our workforce, but things are moving at different speeds. What the LEP can is use its convening power.

“I want to begin this work this year and intend to hold a significant New Anglia ‘Skills Summit’ in late summer. This is with the ambition of delivering the most skilled workforce available to our businesses as soon as possible.”

However, he said he believed Norfolk and Suffolk were well placed to capitalise on their strengths in the energy sector, research, food and agriculture and tourism to generate growth.

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“We have an opportunity to help solve some of the world’s problems,” he added. “We have the green economy pathfinder and we are already an engineering powerhouse second only to Aberdeen in oil and gas with more to come in offshore wind prorammes being built off the coast of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, and a new nuclear power station coming at Sizewell.”

John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council and a member of the New Anglia board, said the LEP was leading the way after setting up a series of funds which could support businesses from start ups stage through to more established firms.

“It is like a baton; we have created funding to support businesses from concept stage to bigger businesses,” he said. “No other LEP is doing that.”

We are not looking to replace the banks but sometimes it can be quite small sums of money that can get a business over the line.”