The region’s two leading business organisations have been handed a key role in helping to identify and support the delivery of the long-term skills needs of businesses.

Norfolk Chambers and Suffolk Chamber of Commerce have been designated as the ‘employer representative bodies’ to run the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) across the two counties.

LSIPs are a key initiative from the Skills & Post-16 Education Act and are designed to ensure a wider role for employers in ensuring an enhanced balance between the demand for particular types of skills and the supply of course from both FE colleges and private training providers.

John Dugmore, Suffolk Chamber’s chief executive said: “This is good news for both Chambers and for the tens of thousands of businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk as LSIPs put the employer voice at the very centre of future skills planning.

“Based on our existing strong and collaborative working relationships with the region’s colleges, universities, other training providers, county councils, other business bodies and the New Anglia LEP, we are confident that our LSIP will make a contribution to our regions’ improved competitiveness and growth.”

Nova Fairbank, Norfolk Chambers’ chief executive added: “Our LSIP will aim to reach many of the companies that previously have not previously engaged with the further education system. This will allow us to identify specific unmet needs and help to accelerate the delivery of courses to meet those needs.

“These are exciting times for both counties and it’s great that the two Chambers have the opportunity to fulfil such a pivotal role in engaging employers with the skills agenda.”

Tom Hunt, MP for Ipswich commented:

“Making sure Ipswich people have the best access to skills training and opportunities is one of my priorities. I am continuing to support and the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in the bid for a Local Skills Improvement Plan for our region. A plan like this would link our skills and education providers directly with employers, ensuring that local people have the training needed to take advantage of the best, high-paid opportunities. It’s essential that we help our local institutions work hand-in-glove with local businesses to pinpoint the skills needs of the local area. I am continuing to work with the Chamber to support this and will be conducting further meetings to ensure I can help wherever possible.”

The Chambers are part of a 32-strong cohort of chambers which will lead LSIPs across the country, supported by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

Jane Gratton, from the BCC, said: “We are delighted that so many accredited chambers have been designated by the Secretary of State for Education.

“The Chamber Network will use its convening power and deep knowledge of their local economies and communities to develop clear plans to address skills challenges faced by businesses.

“This is an opportunity for employers to shape how their current and future workforce can access the right training to thrive in the modern, more digital and greener workplace.”

In setting up the LSIP, Norfolk and Suffolk Chambers will launch a major engagement programme to reach as many businesses as possible with the aim of identifying the regions’ key skills needs. They will then work with the FE colleges, training providers and a arrange of enablers, including the voluntary sector, local authorities and other business organisations across the two counties to find ways in which these skills needs can be addressed.

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