Last week we reported on apprenticeships, the 2014 Budget, subsequent local business opportunities, and Women on Boards. The headlines this week focus on the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) European Jobs and Skills Summit, small businesses at the heart of the Government’s long-term economic plan, Strategic Economic Plans and poor pay black spots.

Strengthening links between education and employment was a key theme at the IPPR European Jobs and Skills Summit, where the Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise, Matthew Hancock, called for “practical, grounded answers based on responding to employers, putting power in their hands, and driven by research”.

Small businesses throughout the country are at the heart of the Government’s long-term economic plan, it was announced recently. This coincides with the Federation of Small Businesses conference 2014, and the announcement of £4 million for agricultural innovation – businesses and spin-outs from universities across the UK have received a share of £4 million of funding from government and industry.

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Strategic Economic Plan (SEP), which sets out the plan for economic growth across Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay was submitted to the Government this week alongside others for all of the England LEPs. Marchmont has been pleased to be involved in a number of these and members of the team were principal authors of the  Transforming the Solent – a £2.8 billion Plan for Growth, submitted by the Solent LEP. The West of England LEP’s submission has detailed proposals to develop their £25 billion economy whilst Gloucestershire’s strategy focuses on new jobs, new homes and new apprenticeships, planning to grow the local economy by nearly £500 million by 2021. Swindon and Wiltshire LEP are also seeking further investment from government, calling for greater investment in innovation.

The Chartered Institute for Professional Development (CIPD) expressed concern over the Trade Union Congress’ (TUC) living wage research which revealed low-pay ‘black spots’ in the South West. Bristol’s workers suffer as further research from PWC shows falls in top-level pay – in parts of Britain nearly half of jobs pay less than the living wage. This release was timed to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the introduction of the minimum wage.  The TUC welcomed the recent commitment from George Osborne towards achieving full employment, but stressed that more must be done to make work pay. “The 2.3 million people currently without work across the UK will be heartened to learn that the Chancellor is committed to the goal of full employment and making work pay”, commented Frances O’Grady.

…and finally, in case you missed it, here is an in-depth look at the 2014 Budget – Implications for Skills and Employment from our friends at the Skills and Learning Intelligence Module.

I hope you find this information useful.