Memorandum by the Learning and Skills
Council (LSC) (RG 84)
1. This memorandum describes how the LSC's
current and future arrangements can effectively deliver on the
skill needs of the country at national, regional and local levels.
2. The role of the LSC is to equip the workforce
with learning and skills that will drive up our economic competitiveness.
Whilst the UK has the fourth largest economy In the world our
productivity lags behind the most advanced countries and despite
comparatively high growth over the last five yearn, Gross Domestic
Product per capita falls below most of our competitors. At the
same time we face increased competition from the Far East. These
factors all point to a need to deliver more high quality learning
3. As a Non-departmental Public Body the
LSC is committed to ensuring that decision-making is made at the
most appropriate levelbe this at local, regional or national
level. This philosophy is at the heart of our current reorganisation
the maximising of localness
to meet employer needs and deliver the 14-19 agenda. Local Councils
have a range of powers, enshrined in the "2000 Learning
and Skills Act" to ensure effective planning and funding
of Learning and Skills In their locality;
the ability to respond effectively
to work more closely with other regional bodies on skills issues;
national policy development
to ensure drive, consistency and the sharing of best practice.
4. The LSC priorities for 2006-07 are attached
In the annex.
5. Many public sector organisations are
already regionally structured thus ensuring that skills planning
and decision making are taken at the regional level and that good-practice
is shared regionally. We are transforming our organisation to
meet a demanding new agenda which challenges us to achieve a balance
between local delivery, regional strategy and national policy.
6. As part of this restructuring the LSC
is enhancing and formalising the role of its Regional Boards which
brings together the wealth of knowledge and experience of our
non-executive employer Local Council members. This will both enhance
our regional skills planning and operations and Increase our regional
accountability as well as providing an opportunity to work more
closely with Sector Skills Councils and other employer bodies.
At the same time we are strengthening our local working to better
meet employer skills needs and deliver the 14-19 agenda, working
in partnership with local authorities. This is crucial to our
success and means that, within a national framework, planning
and funding of learning and skills is agreed at the local level
and aggregated/ratified at the regional level to ensure that regional
priorities, agreed by all partners engaged in Skills and learning
activities, are addressed.
7. Within the skills arena Regional Skills
Partnerships (RSPs) bring together the key regional organisations
that plan and fund skills and learning. The RSPs work within the
Regional Economic Strategy and they are supported within each
region by subregional and Local Strategic Partnerships which ensure
that skills and learning needs are identified and met at subregional
and local levels. These arrangements, which embrace Local Authorities
(LAs) are proving to be particularly effective in ensuring that
all necessary partners are fully engaged in meeting employer skills
needs and that funding is aligned to maximise the raising of Skills
levels. Attached in the annex are examples of the RSP added value
to raising skills levels.
8. LAs are a key contributor to the learning
and skills agenda both at the strategic level and as a substantial
local pubic sector employer. The LSC works in partnership with
all LAs covering, for example, School Sixth Form Funding, developing
14-19 partnerships, supporting the development of Children's Trusts,
sharing LMI data to identify learning and skills needs and more
recently in developing Local Area Agreements (LAAs) which have
been piloted within 20 local areas. The roll out of LAAs across
the whole country throughout 2006-07 and 2007-08 will further
strengthen the LSC/LA relationship and will result in further
partnership working including agreeing joint local economic targets
and opportunities to align funding to join up and maximise local
skills and economic development. In terms of public accountability
the LSCs close working relationship with LAs helps to address
any perceived democratic deficit which is raised from time to
time in relation to regional bodies.
9. The City-Regions agenda brings a focus
on our conurbations which are the key drivers of the UK economy.
They operate as single, integrated labour markets with a substantial
degree of mobility of labour within their boundaries. Demographic
change means City-Regions will have a massive recruitment requirement
over the next 10 years as such there is a real value in adopting
an integrated employment and skills strategy which transcends
local political/administrative boundaries.
10. To be a success the City-Regions and
Core Cities need to complement and build upon already well established
sub-regional arrangements. Whilst this has initially added to
the complexity of geographical operations and interventions greater
clarity on the purpose, outcomes and inter-relations of these
various working arrangements should, over the coming months, simplify
systems and ensure effective decision-making is made at the most
11. The LSC is engaged in the development
of the eight City-Region approaches and our new structure will
give us further flexibility to reconfigure our regional and local
teams to support this kind of pan-area approach thereby increasing
our contribution and responsiveness. We will ensure that the Skills
agenda is at the heart of social and economic regeneration and
that current effective infrastructures are utilised to best effect
thereby avoiding the introduction of any new tiers of bureaucracy.
Examples of our approaches from Birmingham, Sheffield and the
North East are included in the annex.
12. The City-Region approach does have the
potential to focus effort on areas major economic potential and
social need and to share the lessons learnt across the whole region.
The approach will need to encompass substantial conurbations which
are not centred on a major city and care needs to be taken to
ensure that resources from outside the City-Region boundaries
are not inadvertently diverted, and that rural needs continue
to be addressed.
13. The value of closer inter-regional working
on the skills agenda via, for example the Northern Way, is developing
well in addition there are already good examples of cross regional
working including the M4 corridor, the Milton Keynes/South Midlands
development area and Thames Gateway. The impact of this approach
and its transferability to other areas will be evaluated over
time. Any replication of this approach would need to take into
account regional variability in terms of both geography and economic
make-up, and putting in place the most effective and simple structures
for delivery in that context.