further & higher education
local government

Enhancing Skills Provision and Driving Growth Across the North

further & higher education

local government

08:45 - 15:45

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Central Manchester

Early Bird Discount Offer

10% off all advertised rates for a limited time only. Discount available to public / voluntary organisations only.


This Forum will provide participants with the opportunity to examine the latest strategies and funding initiatives designed to improve skills and career development across the Northern Powerhouse. Attendees will hear from The Northern Powerhouse Partnership and The Northern Powerhouse All-Party Parliamentary Group. Furthermore, best practice case studies will cover enhancing skills privisons, creating high-skilled jobs and establishing robust career investment strategies as a method to retain graduates, close the North-South skills divide and turbocharge the Northern Powerhouse.


This forum is specifically designed for Local Government and Higher and Further Education Institutions. Typical job titles will include:

  • Heads of Employment and Skills
  • Heads of Work-Based Learning
  • Business Development Managers
  • Strategic Partnership Managers
  • Directors of Research and Innovation
  • Directors of Academic and Professional Studies
  • Directors of External Relations
  • Directors of Teaching and Learning
  • Headteachers and Principals
  • Qualifications Managers
  • Advanced Learning Practitioners
  • Digital Learning Managers

This forum is also open to the Voluntary and Private Sectors to encourage debate and networking.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Kevin Hollinrake MP, Co-Chair, Northern Powerhouse All-Party Parliamentary Group
  • Henri Murison, Director, The Northern Powerhouse Partnership
  • Craig Ivison, Head of Employment and Skills, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)
  • Tammy Goldfeld, Head of Careers and Employability, The University of Manchester
View the agenda and additional speakers

According to Instructure’s ‘Skills Study: Preparing for the 2030 Workplace’ report October 2019, nearly two thirds of secondary school teachers (68%) and small and medium enterprises (64%) believe that students don’t currently have the soft skills needed to prepare them for the workplace, such as time management, problem-solving and digital literacy. Furthermore, The Good Things Foundation’s Economic Impact of Digital Inclusion in the UK states that 6.9 million people will not have the digital skills needed for life, with 1 in 5 adults have no or low digital skills.

To support the development of skills and career opportunities across the UK and in the North of England, the government established a number of proactive policies, including the establishment of T Level qualifications, a new Digital Skills Strategy and Institutes of Technology. In March 2017, the Government released their UK Digital Strategy, aiming to establish an inclusive digital economy, with digital skills being a driving principle behind the movement through the creation Digital Skills Partnerships in October 2018. In addition, the Department for Education (DfE) is set to deliver the new T Level qualifications from September 2020, which will offer an alternative career route and in-depth learning environment for young people who wish to focus technical and vocational subjects.

In September 2019, the government created a new Northern Powerhouse growth body with the primary role of driving forward the region’s economy and closing the skills gap between the North and South of England. This was then followed by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announcing a series of measures to help the creation of a the skilled workforce, including £400 million for sixth forms and colleges between 2020-2021, £120 million of additional funding to enable every region in England to establish a high-quality Institute of Technology and the establishment of a Skills and Productivity Board to advise the government.

The onus now falls on local authorities, the further and higher education sector from across the northern powerhouse to come together and partner with local business to create innovative schemes to improve skill development not just for young people but also current employees. Failure to do so could have a negative effect on the northern economy and only grow the skills gap between the south and north of England.


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair’s Welcome Address

Paul Swinney, Director of Policy and Research, Centre for Cities (invited)


Morning Keynote: Outlining the Current Landscape and Future Recommendations to Enhance Skill Development Across the Northern Powerhouse

  • Outlining the current skills landscape across the North of England, including the challenge of retaining skilled graduates and the importance of local authorities, further education and higher education institutions collaborating to create clear development pathways
  • Examining the APPG’s Next Steps for the Northern Powerhouse, development to push policies which will uniquely support local economic growth and skills development across the north
  • Highlighting current and future government actions being taken to securing a digital future for northern towns to help support skill development for local residents
  • Pushing for rebalancing on research and development (R&D) spending so that universities in the North have access to an equivalent level as universities in the south
  • Discussing the next steps needed to ensure continued development opportunities across the Northern Powerhouse, including the need for a northern settlement of the Shared Prosperity Fund to match current EU funding post-Brexit

Kevin Hollinrake MP, Co-Chair, Northern Powerhouse All-Party Parliamentary Group (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Examining the Government's Strategy to Improve Digital Skills

  • Outlining DCMS’s 2017 Digital Strategy, which plans to reduce digital exclusion by supporting adults and children who lack basic digital skills with digital training and education through regional led partnerships
  • Exploring the DSP Roadmap and sharing guidance from this step by step guide on how to develop an effective partnership to boost local skill development
  • Highlighting Lancashire’s Digital Skills Partnership, which brings together public, private and voluntary organisations to improve local digital skills, partnering with organisations including Google and Lloyds Bank to support local SMEs
  • Analysing how a DSP can effectively create a digitally inclusive workforce, by establishing an Inclusive Workforce Networking Group alongside local councils and pre-employment programmes support those out of work to retrain

Kerry Harrison, Local Digital Skills Partnership Regional Coordinator, Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Creating High-Skilled Jobs Through Local Investment in Skills Development and Education Partnerships

  • Placing skills development at the heart of Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub by establishing a Skills and Employment Hub and Skill’s Capital Programme which aim to not only create jobs but also ensure they are highly skilled and productive
  • Providing bespoke training courses and accredited qualifications to more than 7,500 learners from 2,100 businesses
  • Delivering £26 million of Growth Deal Skills Programme funding across 16 skills facilities throughout the local area to provide tailored skills hubs for different sectors
  • Launching an Engineering Innovation Centre alongside the University of Central Lancashire, pioneering knowledge exchange with local businesses and schools
  • Creating 1,200 new jobs within the region since 2016 and demonstrating that the zone has the potential to create over 55,000 new jobs in the next decade

Stephen Young, Executive Director of Growth, Lancashire County Council (invited)


Special Keynote: Utilising T Levels to Enhance Skills Development Across the Northern Powerhouse

  • Examining the opportunity T Levels provide to enhance the quality of FE and technical training for young people and adults across the North of England
  • Outlining the ETF’s five strands of T Level Professional Development Offer, which looks to support teachers and ensure they are providing students with high-quality learning and development opportunities
  • Sharing guidance on how learning providers can best utilise ETF’s Digital Teaching Professional Framework, which outlines how practitioners can develop their digital skills through pedagogy and technology-enhanced learning
  • Highlighting the challenges of delivering T Levels effectively as a method to develop young people, including the need for a joint up approach to curriculum design, facilities and resources and assessment standards to ensure maximum social mobility

Cerian Ayres, Head of Technical Education, The Education and Training Foundation (invited)


Case Study: Effectively Establishing a Robust Regional Skills Investment Strategy

  • Outlining the journey of creating and embedding Cumbria LEP’s Skills Investment Plan 2016 – 2020 and the process of filling the 66,500 jobs by 2021
  • Developing a ‘16-19 entitlement’ stipulating the range of post-16 choices for young people in the county to help boost future skills and career pathways
  • Highlighting how the LEP targeted training activity focusing on sector-specific and cross-sectoral skills gaps help to upskill the current workforce across the region
  • Sharing guidance on how the LEP worked collaboratively to ensure a curriculum offer that supports advanced skills for individuals’ learning choices at Levels 3, 4 and above, including developing STEM-related careers

Craig Ivison, Head of Employment and Skills, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Driving Education and Skills Development Across the North

  • Outlining the Northern Powerhouse Partnership’s ‘Educating the North: Driving Ambition Across the Powerhouse’ report, including the need for improvements across the spectrum, from early years development all the way through to career pathways
  • Highlighting the importance of businesses across the north offering work experience placements to promote career and enterprise skills to young people, including how these partnerships between schools and business can be established
  • Analysing best practice examples of career and development pathways being established across the northern powerhouse, including The National College of High-Speed Rail and Barclays Life Skills
  • Discussing the next steps needed to further reduce the attainment and skills gap across the northern powerhouse, including the need for a refreshed skills plan for the north

Henri Murison, Director, The Northern Powerhouse Partnership (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Effectively Supporting the Development of Research Skills and Careers Through Knowledge Exchange

  • Outlining how knowledge exchange plays a crucial role in skills development by providing opportunities for sharing of ideas and expertise and the commercialisation of research and innovation
  • Examining the Research England Development (RED) Fund, which brings together support from businesses, universities, and other public agencies to improve skill development across the higher education sector
  • Analysing the first award from the RED Fund to the University of Liverpool’s Prosper project, which looks to boost the success of postdoctoral researchers outside of academia with the broader capabilities, attributes and mindset needed to thrive in multiple careers
  • Sharing best practice examples from the Strength in Places Fund for building better collaboration between universities and business to create opportunities for entrepreneurship, innovation and skill development

Rachel Tyrrell, Associate Director of Knowledge Exchange, Research England (invited)


Case Study: Successfully Attracting and Retaining Highly Skilled Graduates

  • Examining how Manchester has successfully retained 19,050 16 to 21-year-olds between 2009 and 2017, making it the second most popular city for new graduates in the UK
  • Outlining how the University of Manchester partnered with Manchester Metropolitan University to launch a new scheme aimed at boosting the digital skills, confidence and employment chances of local graduates from underprivileged backgrounds
  • Highlighting how the Graduates for a Greater Manchester scheme will remove barriers to local graduate employment and broaden the choice for those local graduates by embedding business and industry-relevant digital skills into their teaching
  • Offering careers advice and promoting schemes in order to retain and attract highly skilled students and graduates to live and work within the city’s fastest-growing sectors

Tammy Goldfeld, Head of careers and employability, The University of Manchester (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Interactive Panel Discussion: Examining a Whole City Approach to Improving Local Skills – Lessons from Hull

Hear and gain insights from leading experts from across Hull, as they discuss how the local council, college, university and Local Enterprise Partnership work in collaboration to effectively develop learning opportunities, career pathways and skills development programmes for residents.

Delegates will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the front-line challenges they face around establishing successful partnerships and programmes to improve skills development with the panel and audience.

  • Michelle Swithenbank, CEO, Hull College Group (invited)
  • Steve Tomlinson. Employment, Participation and Skills Lead, Hull City Council (invited)
  • Professor Susan Lea, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Hull (invited)
  • Teresa Chalmers, Executive Director of Employment and Skills, Humber LEP (invited)


Chair’s Summary and Close

* Programme subject to change

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