The Warrington Skills Commission has held its inaugural meeting, at Warrington & Vale Royal College, commencing a new public facing partnership debate on skills needs and opportunities required for Warrington’s current and future workforce and economy.
Made up of representatives from a broad range of sectors, including the council, local business, education and skills, public and the voluntary and community sector, the commission will be informed by local, national and international evidence and research.
The commission aims to ensure local people have the skills employers want and need, with its research including a focus on particular skills required to fuel existing and future business needs, such as science, technology, engineering, distribution, logistics and business services.
Based on the informed debate and associated research, the commission will draw conclusions on Warrington’s current position and challenges, identify areas for improvement and make collective recommendations for change, which will be publicly reported.
The Commission will:
- Review the progress made since the last Skills Commission carried out in Warrington in 2013, evaluating what has worked well over the past decade and what has not been delivered, as well as exploring why.
- Review the nature of Warrington’s economy currently and into the future.
- Explore the policy framework around education and skills including the Skills Bill, the Education White Paper and the Academy agenda along with baccalaureate plans and others, and reflect on what this means for the skills needs of Warrington.
- Review the current approach of education and skills providers in Warrington, the associated resourcing and national policy drivers, and the local skills outputs/outcomes.
- Determine the skills and qualifications requirements of Warrington’s economy and businesses to ensure that:
- the local economy remains competitive
- the local economy grows to its true potential
- the current and future workforce needs of local businesses and organisations are met
- local people can participate fully in Warrington’s economic growth
Warrington Borough Council’s cabinet member for economic development and innovation, Cllr Tom Jennings, said: “This is an important piece of work which will help set the framework for further economic success by increasing opportunities for our people to get future-fit employment skills and training. This year marks 10 years since we carried out our last review of skills in Warrington, so the time is right to undertake a refreshed look at our strategic needs.
“Warrington has a rich industrial heritage and is recognised as a place of excellence in nuclear engineering, science and manufacturing, logistics, environmental technologies and IT software development. Our economic success has seen our town measured by research analysts against much larger cities from across the UK.
“However, it’s vital we look to the future. Digital technology is changing the business sector at an exponential pace, and it’s crucial we respond to that. This poses a strategic challenge to both the local economy and to those skills providers who will educate and train the next generation of workers.
“By bringing together professionals from the public, private, education and voluntary sectors, the Warrington Skills Commission will help drive the work to build on our strong economic foundations and ensure economic growth and sustainability for the future.”
Cllr Sarah Hall, cabinet member for children’s services, added: “Warrington’s students continue to perform well, as shown by our impressive GCSE and A-Level results. However, it’s vital that we build on this and continue to look to the future. Many of the jobs that our primary school children today will eventually take up do not currently exist, and we need to respond to that.
“Through the Warrington Skills Commission, we want to ensure that we have the foundations in place to confidently prepare all our young people for the workplace and improve their career opportunities. It gives us a fantastic opportunity to engage with our education providers and young people themselves, to help equip them with the skills that modern businesses and employers want.”
A key outcome of the work of the commission will be to help shape local and national skills policy and investments.
Following the completion of its research, the commission will produce a report and recommendations, which will be presented to the council’s Cabinet in Summer 2023.