New approach to boost employment and skills in East Sussex

Representatives from business and education attended the inaugural meeting of Skills East Sussex A STRATEGIC body aimed at bringing together leading figures from education and industry to boost employment and skills has held its first meeting.

Skills East Sussex (SES) was established as part of East Sussex County Council’s employability and skills strategy, launched last year.

SES, which includes representatives from schools, colleges and universities, careers services, business networks and employers, will meet regularly to discuss how they can ensure employers can access skilled staff locally.

The first SES meeting, held on Monday, March 23 2015 at County Hall, in Lewes, focused on the construction sector, with representatives from companies large and small from across the county.

Subsequent meetings will have different business sector focuses. The next will take place in April and will focus on the engineering sector.

The SES meetings allow businesses to explain the obstacles they face to recruiting skilled staff, influence the type of training provision available and clarify how they can help by offering work experience or apprenticeships and supporting careers guidance.

Graham Peters, chairman of Skills East Sussex and vice chairman of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s vital to the economy of East Sussex that businesses based in the county are able to tap into the skilled workforce they need from within the local area.

“By bringing together a broad cross-sector of expertise from education and industry, we can ensure we have a strategic approach to ensuring there are sufficient routes for people to move from learning into work and remain in sustained employment.”

Becky Shaw, county council chief executive, said: “Making sure people in East Sussex, and in particular young people, have the skills that businesses need is vital both in ensuring existing companies can thrive and in attracting new investment in jobs into the county.”

Skills East Sussex, which will meet quarterly, will set priorities and provide direction for the county’s approach to employment and skills, informed by labour market and skills analysis being developed by the county council.

The group will also link in with other strategic partnerships to ensure that businesses and residents are well supported.

A strategic, long-term approach will be devised on how to best target spending, time, resources and careers campaigns to ensure there is sufficient academic and skills provision, careers advice, apprenticeships, workforce development and sustained employment.

As part of the employability and skills strategy, the council is also leading the You’re Hired campaign, which aims to match 500 young apprentices to 500 employers in five months.