More than 200 employers from across the Sheffield City Region gathered for a skills summit yesterday (19 May) to debate the path to economic growth, promote apprenticeships and learn of a pioneering initiative to boost training.
The first Sheffield City Region Skills summit, held at Rotherham’s New York Stadium heard keynote addresses from Sir Nigel Knowles, chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership and Skills Minister Nick Boles before engaging in a series of panel discussions.
And the event saw the launch of the Skills Bank – the first of its kind in the UK – which can help employers source and fund training.
The Skills Bank has two funding streams – the European Social Fund and the Growth Fund. It will support employers who have staff based in the Sheffield City Region, helping them to access high quality skills training with over 1,100 courses on offer.
Run by PwC, which won a competitive tender, £17m is available for Skill Deals. PwC is responsible for the procurement of training providers, employment engagement and marketing, operation of triage and brokerage services, supporting development of skills deals and overall contractual, performance and financial management of the fund.
In his keynote address, Sir Nigel said: “I can’t possibly capture the scale of opportunity – or the pace of change underway in the Sheffield City Region. This event is very important as skills are vital. If we are going to attract companies from around the world to invest we have to make sure we have a workforce fit for purpose and fit for the needs of the people we are trying to attract to the region.”
Nick Boles outlined Government policy and talked about the apprentice levy before taking part in a Question and Answer debate alongside Sir Nigel and SCR’s Local Enterprise Partnership’s vice chair Nigel Brewster. Mr Boles praised the big turnout saying: “It is testament to the seriousness you are taking the opportunity to become a city region and gaining local powers that so many have come today.”
The summit, hosted and chaired by the BBC’s Home Editor Mark Easton also included an expert panel discussion on the vision for skills in the region and a debate on apprenticeships with a number of young apprentices from companies across the region, giving an insight into how apprenticeships work for them.