Discussing education, employment and skills in the Tees Valley
Prospects recently sponsored a roundtable event in Stockton-on-Tees with the think tank the New Local Government Network (NLGN) and hosted by the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA). The roundtable, chaired by NLGN Director Adam Lent brought together politicians and officials from TVCA and its constitute local authorities together with representatives from higher and further education and the business sector, to discuss the employment and skills challenges facing the Tees Valley.
The roundtable took place against the background of the Government’s Industrial Strategy published last November in which skills and good jobs and greater earning power for all was one its five foundations. The Government is looking to local areas to develop local industrial strategies which help identify priorities to improve skills, increase innovation and enhance infrastructure and business growth. The TVCA had also published in April its own Education, Employment and Skills strategy. A key theme of the discussion was how to turn that into concrete action by bringing the key local players together.
Prospects’ Chief Executive, Nick Bell, heard that one of the key challenges facing the area was the high rates of youth unemployment which is more than double the national average. And while there was a healthy demand for STEM skills, young people were not achieving sufficient grades to take advantage of these opportunities.
Another issue discussed was the economic resilience of the area and its people; the Tees Valley had suffered a number of shocks including the closure of the Redcar steelworks with the loss of over 2,200 jobs. Those around the table were keen not to see the consequences of such a closure being repeated. This means the local economy needs to produce better quality jobs and its people need to develop more higher quality and flexible skills to take advantage of them.
Prospects are sponsoring further events with NLGN, who will be writing up all the discussions with a paper will be published later in the year.