/ News / Leading figures in business and education join the drive to develop skills and boost employment across Lancashire

Two of Lancashire’s leading business people and two senior educationalists have joined the new body which will oversee the drive to develop skills and boost employment prospects among the county’s workforce.

The Managing Director of Accrington’s Affilius Group, Andrew Dewhurst, the Divisional Director of Preston-based Conlon Construction, Neil Conlon, the Principal of Preston’s College, Dr Lis Smith, and the Headteacher of Burnley’s Shuttleworth College, Ruth England, are the latest members of the newly-launched Lancashire Skills and Employment Advisory Panel.

The Panel has this month (April 2019), evolved from the Lancashire Skills and Employment Board. It is responsible for supporting the creation of a skilled and inclusive labour force in Lancashire, which is itself a crucial part of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP’s) strategy of driving economic growth and regeneration in the county.

In January 2018, Lancashire was one of just seven areas nationally to be chosen by the Government to contribute to the design of the new approach, which will support the development of Local Industrial Strategies.

The Panel will focus on a key part of the Local Industrial Strategy in Lancashire – enabling Lancashire residents to boost their skills and economic health and well-being, whilst also ensuring that businesses can access the skills that they need to develop and grow.

Chair of the LEP, David Taylor, said: “The choice of Lancashire as one of just a handful of areas nationally to help model this new approach was recognition by the Government of the significant progress we have already made in strengthening the local labour market, supporting economic growth and fostering the economic health and well-being of the work force.

“The Panel will build on these strong foundations over coming years, to further promote inclusive growth and maximise social value for the benefit of the local community as a whole.

“Adopting this new approach will enable us to work more closely with Government to influence policy making at the highest levels. It will also unlock an extra £75,000 of extra Government funding to extend our knowledge of Lancashire’s labour market.”

LEP Board Director for Skills and Technical Education and Chair of the Panel, Amanda Melton, said: “We are delighted to have Andrew, Neil, Lis and Ruth on board.

“They are exceptionally high-calibre individuals, leading lights in the digital and construction industries, and the education world, respectively.

“They will provide invaluable insights into both the public and private sectors and help balance and complement the deliberations of the existing members.”

Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Anne Milton said: “I’m thrilled that Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership is amongst the first in the country to establish its new Skills and Employment Advisory Panel, and I welcome the news that Amanda Melton, Principal and Chief Executive, of Outstanding rated Nelson and Colne College, has been appointed as the board’s chair.

“We are overhauling technical education including by introducing new T Levels from 2020 – the technical equivalent to A Levels – and the creation of more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities.

“A key part of this work is developing local skills that better match the needs of local employers and so more people can get a good job. To support this work we are rolling out new Skills Advisory Panels – local partnerships between employers, local authorities, colleges and universities – each backed by £75,000 package of support to work together to pool their knowledge and expertise to understand what skills are really needed across each region.”

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