The Leeds City Region LEP draws on a wide range of datasets to produce its annual labour market assessment documents. These cover a wide range of information, but there is a focus on identifying large growth sectors within the LEP and then assessing if skills supply in these sectors is equal to skills demand. Information on educational enrolment and achievements by subject and level, forecasts of sector growth by job numbers, reported skills shortages and job readiness of recruits is all collated and analysed. This analysis has shown particular issues around a lack of investment in training by employers; skills mismatch with a particular undersupply in engineering and other STEM subjects, relatively weak maths and English skills, low skills levels among unemployed youth and lack of skills needed to progress to higher-level roles. Using the local connections it has built up, the LEP has been able to organise meetings with a range of stakeholders, including schools and colleges to present this LMI, and has used it to motivate stakeholders to target their resources to overcome these particular challenges.
One key initiative based on this LMI aims to address the identified shortage of engineering and other STEM skills. In 2014 a proposal was put forward for the development of the Leeds University Technical College (UTC), a Government-funded academy that would provide 14-19 year olds with an education focused on STEM subjects, as well as offering core subjects such as English and modern languages. Employers, aware of the LMI the LEP produced, approached the LEP to feed into the evidence base of the proposal. LMI produced by the LEP showing that only 7 per cent of university enrolment was in engineering and related subjects, yet these sectors accounted for 12 per cent of employment and 11 per cent of apprenticeship vacancies in the city region, formed key evidence in support of the UTC, as it allowed the city to demonstrate skills shortages in a growing sector. Combined with anecdotal evidence from employers on skills shortages in these sectors, this allowed the city to present a strong economic case for the UTC to the Department of Education, resulting in the bid being accepted.
The UTC is due to open in September 2016, and is focused on ensuring its curriculum reflects regional employment needs and opportunities through developing and maintaining strong links with employers. The curriculum itself is being developed with sponsor employers and the University to ensure pupils develop the skills and attributes they value. Employers will continue to be involved with the college when it opens, leading pupils in a series of projects that focus on challenges relevant to industry and offering work experience and mentoring. Students will also benefit from links with Leeds University, who will provide access to specialist equipment and facilities and help mentor pupils alongside employers. Together this will mean that employer feedback is a continuing part of the UTC and LMI covering employer views of skills provision, mismatch and gaps is regularly incorporated in the design of course provision.