As Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Education Excellence, Lifelong Learning and Employability I was pleased to see such a strong focus on skills in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on Wednesday.
This is something I am extremely passionate about. I know the real impact it has on the quality of life of residents of Essex, as well as across the country, and it is very welcome to see this importance reflected in the government’s announcements.
The £50 million pledge towards apprenticeships and growth sectors is certainly a welcome one here in Essex.
This is very much aligned with our own work supporting Essex residents to access flexible and relevant learning and training opportunities. These opportunities in turn help businesses to grow and thrive and support the diverse and growing economy of Essex.
Stimulating these opportunities is an integral part of our ambitions. At the start of the year, we launched the Essex Skills Plan, identifying key local skills gaps and the actions needed to tackle them.
We are pleased to see the Essex Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Service has helped create over 700 apprenticeship opportunities across Essex businesses. The new Essex Apprenticeship Hub is expanding on the success by supporting 16 to 25 year-olds in Basildon, Canvey Island, Colchester and Harlow. We’re sure both initiatives will benefit from the government’s investment.
Clear support and pathways to success are crucial, and resources like Essex Opportunities – the one-stop shop for information and guidance on training and employment opportunities – provide our residents with the means to find the next step on their career. It also helps them to develop their skills to enter a new sector, including digital technology, green industries, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and creative industries.
In this respect, the further targeted support from the government of £4.5 billion to unlock investment in strategic manufacturing sectors that are developing innovative technologies and driving the transition to net zero is also welcome.
In Essex, we will soon be launching a Green Skills Hub to specifically tailor information and advice for residents entering the growing green sector. This is because the importance of green skills and careers to our local economy cannot be understated. The government’s investment could not have arrived at a better time and we look forward to expanding our own offer in this area.
Now is the time to invest in skills and growth sectors, and I am pleased that the government recognises this. Following their investment of £5.5 million to the Local Skills Improvement Fund, of which we recently committed a further £610,000, the government’s focus on skills and apprenticeships matches our own, for the benefit of residents and businesses across Greater Essex now and in the future.