South West Regional Skills Enterprise and Employment Analysis 2007/2008
8. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION
B Level 3 and HE
• Higher level skills development is critical to the region's economic growth, not least because of the significant positive impact it has on productivity. The move to higher value added product strategies is a complex process; nevertheless, it is clear that access to high-level skills is a pre-requisite for companies to “move up-market”.
• Whilst the South West has a highly-qualified workforce, projections of future demand show that supply will need to increase at intermediate and higher levels. The Leitch Review endorses this, proposing a shift to Level 3 and higher-level skills.
• Pathways to HE for those holding vocational qualifications, including Level 3 skills, need to be strengthened and the vocational route promoted.
• Despite a significant growth in the number of accepted applications for HE (a 15.9% growth between 2001 and 2005), there has been a 30% drop in the number of applications in mathematical sciences and informatics together with a fall of 10.8% in the number of combined sciences. These are skills which are critical to raising productivity and improving innovation in business and the drop is a source of major concern for the region.
• The region continues to be a net loser of graduates. Graduate retention should continue to be an important focus for the region.
• The supply of Level 3 skills in the region will need to improve to meet the predicted shortfall of Level 3 skills nationally.
• The Level 3 skills review has identified a number of sectors that should be prioritised for action, with particular problems associated with shortages in the skilled trades.
• More action is needed to increase the development of higher-level skills of those who are in work. The HE Regional Strategy Group should consider how it can further support and build on the Higher Level Skills Pathfinder Project (HLSPP). The link between higher-level skills development and organisational performance improvement should be promoted.
• The RSP should work with HEFCE to agree strategies, as far as is practicable at a regional level, to address identified gaps in HE provision, and to develop cross-partner actions to encourage greater take up of key subjects such as maths and engineering. This work should support decisions on the allocation of additional student numbers and should be led by the HE Regional Strategy Group.
• The LSC and HE should work together to ensure that those undertaking vocational Level 3 skills are ensured clear pathways to HE.
The impact of current graduate retention strategies should be thoroughly reviewed and the strategy revised as appropriate.
• The RSP should task the Sector Operations Group with the development of a plan to improve provision in the skilled trades in sectors that have been identified as priorities, or where significant skills gaps have been identified. See also Section C.
• The recommendations of the Level 3 review should be implemented.
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