A regional skills partnership for the Sheffield City Region is aiming to tackle current and future skills shortages in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Regional Post-18 Education Partnership has been developed to identify positive and practical actions which can impact the most disadvantaged young people and adults in the region as they enter the post-18 system through education or work.
The Partnership is aiming to support those young people and adults most impacted by educational disparity. Secondary school pupils in the region who receive free school meals for 80% or more of their school lives are on average 25 months behind in their academic progress compared to their peers.
It is widely accepted that the Covid-19 crisis is likely to have caused particular hardship to the poorest and most vulnerable children in society. In addition, a high proportion of jobs and businesses have been affected, resulting in many adults needing to re-enter education to gain employment or retrain for a new career.
Believed to be the first of its kind in the country, the Partnership will act as a forum for building a post-18 education and skills system in the City Region and will focus on issues such as skills shortages, education progression routes, apprenticeship opportunities, outreach work with hard-to-reach communities and delivering lifelong learning.
The Partnership brings together leaders from the region’s further and higher education providers, the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), and the Higher Education Progression Partnership.
The Regional Post-18 Education Partnership will:
- Work collaboratively to deliver solutions to overcoming barriers to education and skills opportunities in the region;
- Address identified skills shortage in priority industries through close collaboration and innovative delivery of learning;
- develop ambitious progression routes leading to work or further study in areas of skills shortage and employment demand;
- build on and promoting the work of HEPPsy and facilitate increased joint outreach and communications strategies with schools and employers;
- consider innovative approaches to encourage lifelong learning, including collaborative development of more flexible delivery;
- influence national policy debates affecting the post-18 system and the interconnection between the HE/FE system, as well as aiming to shape the Government’s £3 billion National Skills Fund; and,
- connect into wider discussions around the civic role of anchor institutions in a post-COVID world.
Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University and Chair of the Partnership, said: “As local anchor institutions, we believe we have a civic duty to support our region’s economy, health and communities. All of the partners are absolutely determined to play our part in trying to ensure that the pandemic does not compound pre-existing educational inequalities in the Sheffield City Region.
“We have a shared commitment to embed a more connected and coherent post-18 system for our region and we have made excellent progress in developing a set of guiding principles and proposed actions. We must now turn this good will, collaboration and shared vision into impactful and lasting change.”
Jason Austin, Principal and Chief Executive Officer of RNN Group, said: “We are committed to the collaborative partnership of the local education providers to deliver a positive impact on innovation and skills in South Yorkshire and support the region to develop and thrive economically, post-pandemic.
As part of the Post-18 Education Partnership, we are well placed to serve the local community to create opportunities and ensure that through partnerships and a collective vision, we will bring about a more connected region for economic growth.”
Regional organisations currently represented in the Partnership: Barnsley College, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Chesterfield College, DN Colleges Group, Higher Education Progression Partnership, Northern College, Sheffield City Region, Sheffield Hallam University, The RNN Group, The Sheffield College, and The University of Sheffield.