Headlines: January 13th, 2010

A new report is calling on councils to channel funding for skills training to those areas that will do most to tackle long term employment and boost economic growth in their areas. The New Local Government Network says a ‘place-based approach’ is needed and local authorities should do more to steer money to particular sectors.

The NLGN report urges the reshaping of skills accounts so individuals get more choice over training and councils have greater strategic control by having the ability to vary subsidies for different skills training options based on local economic needs. The report also argues for the streamlining of some skills quangos to create a less cluttered employment and skills system. It says existing national and regional skills agencies could be merged into a single UK Commission for Employment and Skills with operational functions being devolved to local authorities.

The author of the report, Nick Hope, said councils must also do far more to stimulate demand for jobs by creating the environment for dynamic business opportunities and forging a new era of municipal entrepreneurship. He called on the Government to take forward proposals in the Smarter Government White Paper, which would allow councils to use their trading powers to create commercial opportunities.

He added: “We need to move beyond the concept of ‘demand-led’ skills, where employers and learners drive learning but risk perpetuating a short-sighted approach that reinforces industrial weaknesses, towards a ‘place-led’ era, rooted in an area’s unique assets, characteristics and economic potential. Local authorities must be at the heart of this new era, working collaboratively to orchestrate opportunities and drive economic growth.”