South West Regional Skills Enterprise and Employment Analysis 2007/2008
7.1 Joint planning arrangements
Joint planning is an ESP priority. However in reality little actual progress has been made on this to date. Co-operation does take place between agencies, and the LSC and Jobcentre Plus for instance have developed a joint delivery plan, in response to a report by the National Employer Panel.
The region recognises the importance of a strong national framework for skills development. Within this, however, it is important to acknowledge that the most effective balance of priorities will vary between regions, reflecting factors such as demographics, industrial mix and local labour market conditions.
As the South West CSR submission emphasises, there is insufficient flexibility in current funding mechanisms to ensure that this balance is achieved and that regional drivers are reflected in the delivery of adult skills. For example, in a region where 84.4% of the workforce is over 25, the region has been unable to offer adult apprenticeships to anybody over that age. Likewise, whilst the region has one of the highest employment rates in the UK, it does not have the flexibility to achieve the most effective balance between basic and higher level skills provision.
The CSR submission highlights the important role of the ESP and suggest two initial steps for increasing the authority of the ESP to help to co-ordinate activities. Firstly, to require LSCs and Jobcentre Plus to seek ESP endorsement of their regional delivery plans. Secondly, to require SSCs to seek the endorsement of proposals for National Skills Academies located in the region, to reduce the possibility of duplication or adverse impact on other providers.
7.1.1 Local Area Agreements (LAAs)
The Local Government White Paper, Strong and Prosperous Communities(113), places considerable emphasis on the importance of LAAs. It is expected that LAAs/Multi-AreaAgreements will be the key vehicle for driving government strategy through the Local Authorities.
An LAA is an agreement made between a Local Authority (working through its Local Strategic Partnership) and its major delivery partners, with Government Office. The LAA is structured around four 'blocks': children and young people, safer and stronger communities, healthier communities and older people, and economic development and enterprise. They replaced Local Public Service Agreements.
LAAs have agreed, measurable targets that are stretching (and the stretch aspect of the target is crucial). Achievement of most of these targets will bring substantial financial reward to the Local Authority for local re-investment. Few current LAAs have specific skills targets although in many cases their 'non-skills' targets implicitly rely on skills development to achieve the stated aim. Generally LSPs have been weak on economic issues but the move to LAAs is seen a strengthening of the opportunity to move this forward.
Within the economic development and enterprise block, the aim of the LAA is to develop the economic vitality of localities. This can be for example, helping hardest-to-reach people back into work, helping hardest-to-reach people improve their skills, providing positive conditions for business growth and improvement.
Every South West Local Authority at unitary or county level has either agreed or is in the process of agreeing an LAA. The ESP needs to understand what LAAs are seeking to deliver and the fit with the priorities emerging from this analysis. The ESP may then wish to consider if it can add value to this process.
As part of the discussion aimed at improving joint planning, SLIM convened a meeting of partners to discuss the sharing of information and intelligence that underpins planning, monitoring performance and to identify areas for more effective joint planning in the future. This is work in progress, but the outcomes of initial discussions are presented in Table 20.
There is considerable scope for more effective joint planning to take place. This will be ever more important as the delivery of employment and skills becomes more linked and presentations begin for the implementation of the Leitch proposals.
The work of the data pooling group will begin to highlight this further and outcomes are awaited.
LAAs provide a considerable opportunity for linking local action to regional priorities and the ESP has a role to play in ensuring that LAA targets are clear and appropriate. LAAs need to take greater note of the evidence emerging from the LSC National Employer Survey in establishing skills targets.
(113) Strong and Prosperous Communities - The Local Government
White Paper, CLG, Oct 2006
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