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Regions need more control over skills and employment

The government has been urged to give regional economies in the UK greater autonomy over skills and employment in order to create grassroots recovery strategies following the pandemic.

According to new research from skills organisation City & Guilds Group, the UK risks reducing the chances of millions of workers if regions are not given greater control over skills and employment.

Its Act Now report found that COVID-19 has led to mass unemployment, skills shortages, retracting industry sectors and a growing skills gap across regional economies.

It suggested more autonomy over skills funding is needed to deal with the challenges faced in these areas, and advised government to devolve skills funding to Mayoral Combined Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships, arguing they would ultimately be the ones responsible for administering the funding in a more targeted and effective way specific to the business profile in their region.

Speaking to HR magazine, Kirstie Donnelly, City & Guilds CEO, said that the country needs to “champion joined up solutions with local government and businesses working together” to repair regional economies.

At the centre of this solution, she added, the group believes government should establish a national network of Employment and Training Hubs: “which are localised and digitally enabled would provide a ‘Shop Window for Skills and jobs’, making employment pathways more visible and accessible, and ultimately provide a platform which brings together local jobseekers, employers and training opportunities.”

The report also recommended introducing more flexibility to the way skills are taught and expanding funding options to include any type of skills-based learning that could lead to a job.

Donnelly added: “From our discussions with employers up and down the country – the message that came back loud and clear was maintaining investment in people and skills in times of downturn becomes even more business critical.

“As the impact of Covid-19 reshapes our economy, displacing millions of people from their jobs and accelerating the uptake of digital solutions in the workplace, we all need to work harder than ever to ensure that people have the skills they need to access meaningful jobs and that employers have the skilled people they need to build their businesses back better.”

Further reading:

UK productivity: Rebalancing the regions

Devolution could be the answer to regional jobs gaps

UK workers not learning enough new skills