Posted on:
21st September, 2021

Skills and talent pipeline tops future value of LEP

The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) has outlined its five future values as it awaits the outcome of the Government’s Levelling-Up White Paper and Comprehensive Spending Review.

Skills and talent pipeline tops future value of LEP

As business-led partnerships, LEPs throughout England are in ongoing discussions with officials and stakeholders to help define exactly what the best form of business representation and support will look like in the future.

CWLEP has identified its five clear future values: a commitment to Net Zero enabling the region’s businesses to manage both the challenge and the opportunity of decarbonisation; strengthened collaboration with Coventry University and the University of Warwick on innovation, R&D, and productivity; holistic business support to provide tailored advice and guidance accessible to everyone; renewed emphasis on strategic local investment to stimulate and transform the economy; and a connected approach to the skills and talent pipeline that meets the short and long-term needs of Coventry and Warwickshire companies and communities.

CWLEP has played a key role in supporting the business community throughout the pandemic with nearly 7,000 companies turning to the CWLEP Growth Hub since the start of the first lockdown in March 2020. The Growth Hub has also led on wider business engagement for the West Midlands on EU Exit challenges.

Sarah Windrum, Chair of CWLEP, said it was clear the value of LEPs continued to be in accelerating business-led local growth. She said:

“We expect to find out Government’s direction for LEPs this autumn when they conclude the Levelling Up White Paper and launch the Comprehensive Spending Review.

“Over the last decade, LEPs have provided the springboard for local growth by working with their communities to deliver projects from Government funds which have made a real difference.

“Here in Coventry and Warwickshire that work is highlighted by the Coventry Station Masterplan, the start of delivering the Transforming Nuneaton vision, the restoration and redevelopment of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Costume Workshop, and enabling work in Leamington Spa ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

“We have also invested significantly in innovative skills projects targeted on local needs like the WMG Degree Apprenticeship Centre at the University of Warwick and WCG’s Engineering Centre at their Warwick Trident campus.

“We are now focused on our role as a catalyst for action on Net Zero: capitalising on the opportunity and supporting businesses with the challenge. The significant private and public investment in the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre places our region in a powerful position in the Government ambition for an indigenous EV supply chain. We have also supported SME access to finance for new innovation through the repurposing of monies to the CWRT Duplex Fund. We are exploring further investments and initiatives that help our businesses take advantage of green growth.

“To help with the challenge, we will continue to provide tailored business support to tackle decarbonisation, automation, and other key issues through our Growth Hub – which has cemented its position as one of the best in the country through the rapidly-changing Covid environment by supporting the development of new supply chains and providing crucial assistance to our Local Authorities in the distribution of business grants.  

“Building resilience and the capacity for growth in our current and emerging clusters also remains a top priority as we continue to help develop a skilled talent pipeline with our universities and Further Education colleges, and enable R&D and global first innovation using our region’s innovation assets like the MTC and the National Transport Design Centre at Coventry University.

“We have used the nationwide review to regroup and refocus ourselves and our partners on what matters to Coventry and Warwickshire and what ‘good growth’ looks like for our businesses and our communities. We will use this strong foundation of partnership working and our collaborative and agile vision set out in our Strategic Reset Framework to play our part in delivering Government’s Plan for Growth, achieve the region’s ambitious Net Zero targets, and truly build back better.”

The current Government review of LEPs is examining how future local business organisations can best support the Plan for Growth with a specific focus on the UK’s transition to a Net Zero economy, boosting international trade, stimulating innovation, and exploiting local strengths and comparative economic advantage. The conclusions will feed into the Levelling-Up White Paper due later this year.

Johnathan Werran, Chief Executive of the think-tank Localis, added:

“LEPs came through the stress test of how to engineer economic pandemic recovery with flying colours, showing their worth with the immediacy and intelligence of their responses in rapidly devising credible local growth strategies that united a diverse set of partners.

“If the aim of the spending review and levelling up agenda is to build back better, and starting from now, Localis views LEPs as an optimal, oven-ready structure for binding our local economic anchors with the local and national engines of state. Truth be told, if they didn’t exist already, senior officials and ministers would be busy inventing them.”