This week: responses to Ed Miliband’s address to the Labour Party Conference, devolution, UKCES Forging Futures programme, the latest on Hinkley, Dawn French and the Best University in the South West. Last week’s newsletter reported on access to education, skills gaps and gender, devolution and the latest from LEPs and industry.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady responded to Ed Miliband’s speech to the Labour Party Annual Conference in Manchester this week saying “This was a speech that spoke to the real problems and worries of working people – jobs, living standards, homes and a secure future for the NHS. Its policy agenda, genuinely ambitious but believable, is exactly the way to reconnect politics to voters”. NIACE responded, calling for an adult skills revolution. Richard Atkins, President of the Association of Colleges commented “To achieve the target of getting as many school/college leavers to take up an apprenticeship as going to university will involve creating around 100,000 advanced or higher apprenticeships a year”. UCU also welcomed the emphasis on apprenticeships, but called on all political parties to go further with improvements to vocational education.

TheTUC also welcomed Labour’s national minimum wage pledge. The minimum wage would rise to £8 an hour over the course of the next parliament if Labour wins the general election, the party has pledged, with leader Ed Miliband saying it was “not good enough” that one in five people in the UK were on low pay.

In the wake of the Scottish referendum, Prof. Patrick McGhee, assistant vice-chancellor at Bolton, argues that “if there is to be meaningful devolution within England” [et al] “then all higher education leaders need to ensure they raise the level of the debate and secure recognition that UK universities are an immense economic and intellectual asset with a key role to play in any democratic settlement.”

A joint publication from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and Universities UK (UUK) – examining the ways in which universities and employers can work together to improve higher level skills – has been hailed a ‘quiet revolution’, creating a new generation of highly skilled workers, according to a new report from UKCES. Local level data from the 2011 and 2013 Employer Skills Surveys has also been published by UKCES.

UKTI is looking for contractors to provide trade services and any associated European funded international trade projects in the 9 English regions.

Closer to home, plans to build a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset have been recommended for approval following a European Commission investigation. In a dramatic u-turn, Mr Almunia has now decided the project should be allowed to go ahead, subject to conditions which have not yet been disclosed. Business Secretary Vince Cable announces £8 million of funding to train the next generation of nuclear technicians and engineers.

It was announced this week that Dawn French is to become the new chancellor of Falmouth University. Dawn is a qualified teacher, passionate about education and all things Cornish and with her celebrity status, has been deemed by many to be an excellent appointment to the post.

The University of Exeter has been named the top university in the South West according to The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015 after reaching a new high of 7th place in the national rankings. A prestigious new specialist school, designed to act as a regional centre of excellence for gifted young mathematicians, jointly sponsored by the University of Exeter and Exeter College, was officially opened last week.

The Fourth edition of the ComTal Newsletter was puiblished recently, looking at activities and products developed by the project over the past two years.

In response to our user testing survey – which calls for more on Hinkley, skills and LMI: for LEPs, for industry; and by gender – our sister organisation, SLIM, have kindly produced an Infographic of the labour market in the Heart of the South West LEP. If you have not yet completed the survey, it really is very short

I hope you find this information useful.



National Headlines

Higher Education

REF impact case studies to be analysed
A new project will analyse the wider impact of the research undertaken by UK universities.

HECSU – Graduate unemployment in steep drop, new data suggests
There has been a big fall in graduate unemployment in the UK, the latest figures suggest.

HEPI – The Haldane Principle and the 2015 election
The Director of HEPI, Nick Hillman, has an article published today on the Guardian’s Higher Education Network website about Liam Byrne’s claim that the Coalition Government are subverting the Haldane Principle.

UCU – Education is the key to breaking out of poverty trap, says ONS
A lack of education is the factor most likely to hold poor people back, says a new report from the Office for National Statistics.

UCU responds to HEPI report on student number controls
The government must clearly set out where funding for extra student places will come from as the number controls are lifted, UCU said recently.

 Vocational Education

More high skilled routes into work needed for future economy, warns UKCES
Employers and universities need to build more partnerships to help cater for the additional two million jobs that will require higher-level skills by 2022, a report has said.

New report on state of careers advice welcomed by UKCES
UK Commission for Employment and Skills welcomes new findings from National Careers Council.

Vocational education and training – a road to excellence
The issue of permeability between different sections of education was the subject of two speeches Cedefop Director James Calleja gave at international conferences in September.

Education Funding Agency Information Exchange calendar now live
The new calendar function is now available on the Education Funding Agency Information Exchange.

Rooting for further education
Mark Brickley, CEO and Principal of Kensington and Chelsea College, believes that further education is vital. He explains why and discusses how his college is helping to shape a new generation of creatives.

Further education and skills – statistical first release
Success rates for 2012 to 2013 and provisional further education and skills data for the first 9 months of 2013 to 2014 academic year.

Nearly 600,000 jobseekers find employment though the Work Programme, reports ESRA
The Employment Related Services Association, the representative body for the employment support sector, has released its latest Job Start statistics for the Work Programme to complement the latest labour market statistics.

South West Headlines

Business engagement in the Heart of the South West
Local businesses will soon be able to find out more about what HotSW is doing to help businesses throughout the area.

Merging Gloucestershire business group GFirst LEP with Bristol and Swindon would have economy
Merging the organisation responsible for boosting Gloucestershire’s economy with one of its neighbours in Bristol or Swindon would threaten the county’s future prosperity, top Tories have said.

A major year for major infrastructure projects
2014 has been a big year for major infrastructure projects in the UK.

£4.5m announced to help manufacturers take advantage of Offshore Wind growth
The GROW:OffshoreWind service has announced the opening of two fast-track funding calls worth a combined £4.5m to assist manufacturing companies in England to take a significant share of the opportunities presented by the UK’s offshore wind market.

Trade Unions

TUC welcomes business leaders’ call for a higher minimum wage
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady responds to a letter signed last week (Thursday) by a group of senior business leaders calling for the national minimum wage to rise at a faster rate.

Industry Skills

South West Manufacturers Looking at Home Markets to Drive Growth
Small to medium sized (SME) manufacturers in the South West identify sales into home markets as the most important way of achieving growth over the next five years, according to the latest Barometer survey from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS).

ProSkills UK – MakeIT! 2014-15 Ambitions and Report
Proskills has big plans in motion to celebrate its 10th birthday in 2015, with a new ambitious vision to help support the programme’s growth, reach and longevity in growing more budding talent.

The critical skill you now need for 70 percent of credit risk jobs in Hong Kong
Credit risk remains one of the most stable and sought-after banking jobs in Hong Kong, but this year banks in the city are determined to hire more candidates with Mandarin-language skills into credit-risk roles.

CITB – Green offices ‘boost employee wellbeing’
Employers can improve the productivity of their office workers by investing in sustainable construction measures, according to a new report.

Dairy Crest cuts 260 jobs at creamery and bottling plant
Dairy products firm Dairy Crest is to close a creamery in Somerset and bottling dairy in London, with the loss of 260 jobs.

UK Research Publications

Forging futures – building higher level skills through university and employer collaboration
A joint publication from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and Universities UK (UUK) examining the ways in which universities and employers can work together to improve higher level skills.

Perceptions of A levels and GCSEs – Wave 12, perceptions of heads of schools, teachers, the general public, parents and students
Each year Ofqual commissions a survey of public perceptions of A levels and GCSEs in England. The survey covers teachers, parents and students, and addresses confidence in the general examinations systems.

Apprenticeship reforms – equality impact assessment
Analysis of the potential equalities impacts of apprenticeship reforms.

Work Programme statistical summary – data to 30 June 2014
Official statistics to 30 June 2014 on Work Programme referrals, attachments, validated job outcome payments and sustainment payments.

The percentage of referrals to the Work Programme that could achieve a job outcome
Data on the proportion of referrals with sufficient time on the Work Programme to have qualified for a job outcome payment and did so.

Mobility manifesto
Presents recommendations for changes in the education system to improve social mobility in England.

Local Enterprise Partnership – Intelligence

Infographic – the Labour Market in the Heart of the South West LEP
Infographic illustrating the Labour Market in the Heart of the South West LEP benchmarked against the South West region and England in terms of percentage change. Download the full spreadsheet.

Labour Market Profile, South West England, September 2014
A detailed snapshot of the demographics of the Heart of the South West LEP benchmarked against the South West and England with respect to: Resident population, Employment and unemployment, Economic inactivity, Employment by occupation, Qualifications, Out-of-work benefits, Jobs (total jobs / employee jobs) and Businesses from ONS.

Investing in UK Infrastructure
A guide to investing in UK infrastructure.

Contacts for partnership opportunities – Jobcentre Plus District Managers
Partnership opportunities for public and voluntary organisations to help Jobcentre Plus move people off benefits and into employment.

Public sector finances – August 2014
Latest data on the Public Sector Net Borrowing, Net debt and the cash requirement.

Professional and career development loans 2013 to 2014
The number of people who applied for professional career development loans for the financial year 2013 to 2014.

Charter for devolution
Drawn up by Key Cities, a group representing 23 mid-sized cities including Southampton, Hull, Wolverhampton and Milton Keynes. Argues that England’s cities should have pooled budgets and freedom to allocate funds as they see fit. Calls for ‘single city budgets’ pooling public funds into one block for a fixed five-year period so that city leaders are ‘free to allocate funds without interference from Whitehall red tape’.

Sector Skills Publications

Shared parental leave and pay – employers’ technical guide
This is a technical guide for employers to consider when implementing policies on shared parental leave and pay.

NHS workforce statistics, provisional – June 2014
NHS Workforce Statistics.

Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June
Detailed annual statistics on the structure of the agricultural industry at 1 June in England and the UK.

Turnover and orders in production and services industries – July 2014
Monthly turnover, exports, and orders data for production and services industries.

SFA innovation code
How the innovation code works, its purpose, and the criteria and funding rules which apply to it. This document sets out how colleges, training organisations and who receive a direct grant from the SFA can use funding for courses that meet particular local business and employment needs, whilst they are simultaneously developed for the accreditation.

SFA payments and data
Information on ILR data collections for colleges, training organisations, local authorities and employers.

BIS research strategy 2014 – 2015
This document concentrates on core Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) research priorities where we are keen to engage with the wider research community.

Further education and skills – statistical first release
Success rates for 2012 to 2013 and provisional further education and skills data for the first 9 months of 2013 to 2014 academic year.

Securing our digital future – the techUK manifesto for growth and jobs 2015-2020
Outlines how the next five years are crucial for the UK, not just to be a digital leader but to use digital technologies to tackle the fundamental long-term social and economic challenges for the next generation.


Dorset LEP ESIF Update
31 October2014, North Dorset, venue tbc.

31/10/2014 – This unique event is being held to raise awareness of and provide a breakdown of how you can benefit from the EU funding as a business, and use the fund to help your local community. ESIF formulates part of the Dorset LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan, and will help to increase the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises, improve the skills and employability of the county’s workforce and strengthen the Dorset economy through growth and enterprise.

Dorset LEP ESIF Update
27 October 2014, 14:00 – 17:00, Dorchester, venue tbc

27/10/2014 – This unique event is being held to raise awareness of and provide a breakdown of how you can benefit from the EU funding as a business, and use the fund to help your local community. ESIF formulates part of the Dorset LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan, and will help to increase the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises, improve the skills and employability of the county’s workforce and strengthen the Dorset economy through growth and enterprise.

Dorset LEP ESIF Update
22 October 2014, 14:00 – 17:00, Bournemouth, venue tbc.

22/10/2014 – This unique event is being held to raise awareness of and provide a breakdown of how you can benefit from the EU funding as a business, and use the fund to help your local community. ESIF formulates part of the Dorset LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan, and will help to increase the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises, improve the skills and employability of the county’s workforce and strengthen the Dorset economy through growth and enterprise.

IES employment policy conference 2014
25 November 2014, Ambassadors Bloomsbury, London

25/11/2014 – Examines The UK youth labour market, UK policy initiatives, The role of employers, The perspectives of young people and International policy perspectives.

MAS supports The Manufacturing and Engineering Expo
8 October 2014, 09:00 – 16:30, Kent Event Centre, Maidstone

08/10/2014 – This year’s event promises to be an inspirational business-to-business show designed to support and showcase everything that is great about the engineering and manufacturing sector and what’s more, it’s free to attend.

Learning Networks and Annual Conference for Erasmus+
26-27 November 2014, Conference Aston, Central Birmingham

26/11/2014 – The very first Learning Networks and Annual Conference for Erasmus+ have arrived. Conference Aston in central Birmingham will be the venue for the Learning Networks event on 26 November and Annual Conference on 27 November. Bookings will open in October.

An evening dinner debate on local government digital capability
2 October 2014, 17.45 – 21.00, Bristol

02/10/2014 – Aimed at CEOs, councillors and senior local authority managers. The event will focus on the feasibility, utility and structure of a Local Digital Academy that would help to build digital capability within local government.

Hot Topic event on Building Digital Capability
2 October 2014, 10.30 – 16.00, Bristol

02/10/2014 – Highlighting the digital skills required to deliver local public services and present the work councils are already doing to improve them. Over the course of the day, local authority heads of service, change managers, CIOs, CTOs and heads of HR will improve their understanding of learning and development activities and learn how to share resources.

Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Local-Central Discovery Day
1 October 2014, 10.30 – 17.00, Bristol

01/10/2014 – Explore the impact of DVLA digital transformation on local authorities and their service users. The aim of the day will be to identify digital products that could be built nationally to save money and improve services. The event is aimed at local and central government heads of service, assistant directors and service managers, bailiffs, ICT and digital specialists and any public sector role that would benefit from better access to DVLA data.

ESRC’s Festival of Social Science
1-8 November 2014, University of Exeter

01/11/2014 – 11 separate events celebrating social science research and its relevance to many areas of life, from personal wellbeing to the sustainability of the economy.

The Skills Show, NEC
13 – 15 November 2014, Birmingham NEC

13/11/2014 – FREE to attend, The Skills Show provides young people with opportunities to discover what they are good at and what they enjoy, through hands-on experiences combined with practical advice and guidance, to help shape futures and transform lives.

Grow Gloucestershire – The Skills Show Experience
7 – 8 October 2014, The Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse

07/10/2014 – Highlight the exciting career opportunities you have available and get face to face with potential apprentices, trainees and staff. Bring skills to life through inspirational ‘HAVE A GO’ activities.Talk to Gloucestershire’s young people about what it is really like to work in your sector. Raise your profile and promote your brand, products and services.

GET THE GRIT – A resilience workshop to develop a ‘growth mindset’ for all – training event
led by Jackie Beere OBE
12 November 2014, Campaign for Learning, 24 Greencoat Place, Westminster, London, SW1P 1RD

12/11/2014 – Raise achievement and improve wellbeing through resilience training with Jackie Beere, who has years of experience in coaching and personal development for children and teachers.

Motivated or Mandated – engaging adults in learning and supporting them to succeed
20 October 2014, London, UCU Office, Old Bakery, Carlow Street, London NW1 7LH

20/10/2014 – This conference will encourage dialogue between practitioners and researchers in order to explore the ways to motivate adults to engage and succeed in literacy and numeracy learning.

CIPD – Devon and Cornwall Branch Conference
1 October 2014, 09:45, Sandy Park Conference Centre, Sandy Park Way, Exeter, EX2 7NN

01/10/2014 – Delegates will be able to enjoy 2 fantastic Key note speakers and select from a menu of 12 mini seminars, workshops and master classes in Employment Law, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Health and Wellbeing and Learning and Development.

Cedefop – Skills needs anticipation and matching course
Turin, Italy, 20 – 24 October 2014
Deadline for applications – 15 September 2014

20/10/2014 – Cedefop co-organises a training and knowledge-sharing course on skills needs anticipation and matching with the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation (ITC-ILO), the Skills Development and Employability Unit of the ILO and

Improving financial stability and efficiency in Higher Education – sustainability, alternative revenue streams and lean ways of working
19 November 2014, central London

19/11/2014 – Steve Egan, Deputy Chief Executive, HEFCE, will be speaking at this event, which will bring out latest thinking on making the Higher Education sector more efficient, and to increase financial stability at a time of considerable changes to university funding – focusing on options and implementation.

Next steps for the Research Excellence Framework
23 April 2015, central London

23/04/2015 – David Sweeney, Director, HEFCE will be speaking at this seminar, which is scheduled to follow publication of this year’s Research Excellence Framework (REF), the system by which the quality of research from UK HEIs is assessed – with significant implications.

HEFCE Annual Meeting 2014
16 October 2014, 09:30-13:00, Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG

16/10/2014 – The meeting offers an opportunity to learn more about current developments, HEFCE’s role and the challenges facing higher education. Booking for the event will open in August.

Welfare reform – creating effective local delivery partnerships
20 December 2014, Prospero House, Borough High Street, London SE1

20/12/2014 – This one day conference will provide an early opportunity to consider the updated Local Support Services Framework and will feature examples of best practice in the planning and delivery of services sharing learning from the Local Authority led pilots as well as drawing on the experience of housing associations, and third sector organisations in the delivery of budgeting support, debt advice, and financial inclusion inititatives, local welfare schemes, and digitial inclusion projects.

IfL Fellowship Research Programme
17th Oct 2014, Oxford

17/10/2014 – The IfL Fellowship Research Programme is designed to develop individuals’ research and publication skills.

The Skills Show Experience – Have a Go Exeter
22 October 2014, WestPoint Centre (Devon) Ltd, Clyst St Mary, Exeter, EX5 1DH

22/10/2014 – The SW Employment and Skills Partnership and partners are very excited to formally invite you to The Skills Show Experience Exeter 2014! The Employment and Skills Partnership are organising an event in Exeter in partnership with Devon County Council on 22 October.

Skills, Employment and Growth Conference 2014 30th September, 2014, University of Salford
30/09/2014 – This one day conference will provide delegates a timely opportunity to debate whether Government proposals to reform skills and employment programmes will benefit learners, engage more employers and get more people back to work.

OECD LEED Programme Expert Seminar – What works, and what doesn’t? Evidence-based approaches to tackling disadvantage
October 2014, OECD Conference Centre, Paris

15/10/2014 – This expert seminar will focus on how countries can establish a policy framework to enable effective local action using an evidence-based approach, choosing between different measures at a time of limited resources. The latest evidence from OECD countries on ‘what works’ and ‘what doesn’t’ will be considered, with participants sharing their own experiences from their perspectives as policy makers, researchers, practitioners and social entrepreneurs.

SW TUC – A Vision for a South West That Works
1 October 2014, 16:00-18:00, PCS South West Regional Office Suite III, First Floor, Quintana Gate, Bartholomew Street, Exeter EX4 3BH

01/10/2014 – This session will focus on transport.

SW TUC – A Vision for a South West That Works
11 October 2014, 14:00-16:00, Unite, Tony Benn House, Victoria Street, Bristol

11/10/2014 – This session will focus on the green economy.

SW TUC – A Vision for a South West That Works
29 October 2014, 16:00-18:00, Unite, No. 1 Pullman Court, Great Western Road, Gloucester GL1 3ND

29/10/2014 – This session will focus on skills for the future.

SW TUC – A Vision for a South West That Works
4 November 2014, 16:00-18:00, Unite, Tolpuddle Martyrs House, 238 Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth BH8 8EG

04/11/2014 – This session will focus on public services.

SW TUC – A Vision for a South West That Works
12 November 2014, 14:00-16:00, Taunton Rugby Club, Hyde Park, Hyde Lane, Taunton, Somerset TA2 8BU

12/11/2014 – This session will focus on tacking inequality.

Semta Skills Awards – Engineering Skills for the Future
24 February 2015, Park Plaza Riverbank hotel, London

24/02/2015 – Turn on the spotlights, dust off the red carpet – the hunt is on to find the very Best of British Engineering – which is to be celebrated at the second Semta Skills Awards. The backing of some of the biggest engineering brands in Britain have made the awards night one of the most important dates in the sector’s diary.

MAS Workshop – Using Design for Competitive Advantage
9 October 2014, Royal Wootton Bassett

09/10/2014 – The workshop for SMEs will summarise different expressions of design best practice and will include practical exercises to investigate how a products manufacturing cost can be reduced by design. It will guide delegates towards improvement opportunities relating to their own product.

International IP Protection
6 October 2014, British Library, London

09/10/2014 – In this one off series of events, senior representatives from WIPO will lead discussions on the international protection of IP rights. The half day events will provide an introduction to WIPO services and initiatives.To register your interest, email wiposeminars@ipo.gov.uk with the subject heading ‘WIPO seminar registration.

Creative SkillSet – Get Your Next Job in TV Drama, Birmingham
20 October 2014, BBC Academy, Birmingham

20/10/2014 – This day is a Creative Skillset funded initiative for TV freelancers in the UK creative industries, and is supported by the Skills Investment Fund.

Creative SkillSet – Get Your Next Job in TV Drama, Salford
21 November 2014, MediaCityUK, Salford

21/11/2014 – This day is a Creative Skillset funded initiative for TV freelancers in the UK creative industries, and is supported by the Skills Investment Fund. Booking for this will open nearer the time.

Open consultation – Higher education living cost support, EU nationals’ residency requirements
10 November 2014, 23:45

10/11/2014 – Proposal to extend the residency requirement from 3 to 5 years, before EU nationals can receive higher education living cost support.

CITB Business Awareness Workshop
23 October 2014, Gloucester

23/10/2014 – Free Business Advice from CITB in a one day workshop. Developed with support from HMRC, HSE and professional bodies to help you survive and thrive in today’s economic climate.

Open consultation – Skills for Logistics, National Occupational Standards
6 October 2014, contact Paul Barefoot at

06/10/2014 – These projects involve consulting with industry to write new or review current National Occupational Standards for specific occupations in the logistics sector. Steering group meetings have already been held for most of these projects and we will be consulting electronically on the draft NOS over the next few months.

Want to know more about entering the world of Facilities Management?
LIVE Twitter Q&A – 26 September 12:00-14:00

26/09/2014 – Join The Building Futures Group, The Sun newspaper and a number of successful Facilities Managers for a Twitter Q&A. Ensure you’re using the hashtag #sunsecretjobs and an expert will be in touch.

AoC Conference and Exhibition
18-20 November 2014, ICC Birmingham

16/11/2014 – The AoC Annual Conference and Exhibition brings together the further education sector under one roof to learn, develop, influence, exchange information and network. The highlight of AoC’s events calendar, the conference combines keynote speakers, plenary sessions and breakout sessions to inform and stimulate debate.

The Future of Higher Education
3 November 2014, St Anne’s College, Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6HSA

03/11/2014 – In all OECD countries Higher Education is central in political discourse concerning both economic growth and the need to diminish inequality of opportunities and outcomes. Three main questions will be considered: 1.What, if anything, has been achieved to improve growth performance and to enhance social mobility via the expansion of the HE sector and by efforts to increase its accessibility? 2.What has all this meant for the higher education sector itself in terms of its objectives, governance, efficiency, funding, course content and delivery? ..and 3.What developments are likely in the future?