Skills panel appoints senior business and education representatives

The newly-launched Lancashire Skills and Employment Advisory Panel has appointed two leading business figures and two senior educationalists to help develop skills and boost employment prospects among the county’s workforce.

Andrew Dewhurst, managing director of Accrington’s Affilius Group, and Neil Conlon, a director at Preston-based Conlon Construction, will contribute their industry expertise, while Dr Lis Smith, principal of Preston's College, and Ruth England, headteacher of Burnley’s Shuttleworth College, will bring insight into education.

Amanda Melton, principal and chief executive of Nelson and Colne College, chairs the board.

The panel was borne out of the Lancashire Skills and Employment Board and is responsible for supporting the creation of a skilled and inclusive labour force in Lancashire. 

In January 2018, Lancashire was one of seven areas nationally to be chosen by the government to contribute to the design of the new approach, which will support the development of Local Industrial Strategies.

The panel will now focus on a key part of the Local Industrial Strategy in Lancashire - enabling Lancashire residents to boost their skills and economic health and well-being, whilst also ensuring that businesses can access the skills that they need to develop and grow.

Adopting this new approach will enable us to work more closely with government to influence policy

David Taylor, chair of the LEP, said: “The choice of Lancashire as one of just a handful of areas nationally to help model this new approach was recognition by the government of the significant progress we have already made in strengthening the local labour market, supporting economic growth and fostering the economic health and well-being of the work force.

“The panel will build on these strong foundations over coming years, to further promote inclusive growth and maximise social value for the benefit of the local community as a whole.

“Adopting this new approach will enable us to work more closely with government to influence policy making at the highest levels. It will also unlock an extra £75,000 of extra government funding to extend our knowledge of Lancashire’s labour market.”

Anne Milton, minister for apprenticeships and skills, said: “We are overhauling technical education including by introducing new T Levels from 2020 – the technical equivalent to A Levels – and the creation of more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities.

“A key part of this work is developing local skills that better match the needs of local employers and so more people can get a good job. To support this work we are rolling out new Skills Advisory Panels – local partnerships between employers, local authorities, colleges and universities - each backed by £75,000 package of support to work together to pool their knowledge and expertise to understand what skills are really needed across each region.”