This week: SetSquared boost, UKCES’s ‘Growth Through People’ report, ageing seaside towns, and Happy Birthday HEInnovate! Last week’s edition looked at golden handcuffs, high earning graduates, supercomputers, and the latest on Hinkley.

Research from universities across the South of England could be commercialised and turned into successful businesses faster than ever before, thanks to a multi-million pound project announced this week (November 26) by Minister for Universities and Science, Greg Clark MP. Under the programme, early-stage researchers at the five SETsquared universities (Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey) will be given tailored training, mentoring and funds to speed up the commercialisation of their ideas, technologies and products.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) will, next week, launch a comprehensive summary of the state of the UK skills system, co-signed by the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) and the Confederation for British Industry (CBI), which makes five recommendations for action, with employers driving long-term prosperity and growth.

Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges said: “Employers must work together with the education community to create meaningful qualifications for today’s fast-changing global skills economy” David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE said: “We need to build stronger social partnerships across the country to deliver a new localism where skills and employment services are better joined up and where employers can work with colleges, universities and other providers to find the skills solutions which support better progression in work and higher productivity”.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) suggests the report calls for investment in skills to boost UK’s productivity, as Ministers, unions and businesses have been urged to deliver more ‘earning and learning’ employment schemes, in order to raise people’s skill levels. The CBI also called on Chancellor George Osborne this week to focus on infrastructure investment and remove barriers to enterprise when he delivers his Autumn Statement next week.

Energy and Utility Skills welcomed the report “Through the Energy and Efficiency Industrial Partnership led by National Grid, employers in the power and utilities sector are working together for the first time and with their supply chains to tackle issues of energy demand and job creation.”

Creative Skillset also welcomed the report. David Abraham, Creative Skillset Board Member and Chief Executive of Channel 4, said: “The Growth Through People strategy highlights the importance of industry-wide collaboration and employer-led partnerships in developing a skilled workforce.

The research suggests that climbing the career ladder has become harder as technology has increasingly infiltrated the workplace, according to the Chartered Institute for Professional Development (CIPD). Urgent action must be taken to improve skill levels and how they are developed in order to boost productivity, wages and social mobility, according to Cogent, the Sector Skills Council for science based industries. Almost half of UK businesses have turned to migrant workers as they struggle to find local talent, a report from British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) has found.

The population of coastal towns is ageing. More than a third of residents in some of the country’s best-known seaside resorts are over 65, prompting calls from MPs and business leaders for a massive investment to attract younger residents.

The number of young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (Neet) has fallen by 142,000 from a year ago to 954,000, according to the latest figures.

…and finally, Happy Birthday HEInnovate! …the self-assessment tool for encouraging institutional change and innovation in higher education institutions, was launched one year ago. The release of an updated version of the tool marks the occasion.

I hope you find this information useful.




Higher Education

Association of Graduate Recruiters university awards 2015 – nominate your service
The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) is inviting higher education careers and employability services, which are members of AGR, to nominate themselves for the AGR Graduate Development Awards 2015.

Is bigger better for universities?
Student numbers will be uncapped from 2015. Chris Havergal examines arguments for and against expansion.

Report highlights 10 trends set to shake up education
Massive open social learning and dynamic assessment on the Open University’s list.

Teacher shortage fears as figures warn of under-recruitment in key areas
Universities performing best at recruiting trainee teachers according to new government data.

HEFCE report highlights the growing transnational nature of English higher education
New research by HEFCE looks for the first time at how students on UK higher education programmes delivered overseas move on to first degree courses delivered in England.

New qualifications launched to meet UK demand for digital skills
New government and industry-backed digital qualifications will provide the skills for a wide range of digital jobs.

Degree apprenticeships launched to boost hi-tech skills
Young people will be able to gain a full honours degree while earning a wage and paying no fees, under a scheme backed by government and industry.

Chinese students to help UK businesses
Chinese-speaking students are to be placed with UK companies to help them break into the Chinese market or find new investment.

Billions of pounds to be saved thanks to new What Works Network findings
Taxpayers’ money could be saved and spent more effectively thanks to findings from the government backed What Works Centres.

Mature students – lifelong learning on life support?
Matthew Reisz talks to academics about their experiences of teaching older learners, while Holly Else analyses the decline in the number of mature students.

UCU launches pre-election manifesto
The next government must look again at student finance and consider radical alternatives to the current system says UCU as it launches its 15-point pre-election manifesto today.

‘Leaky pipe’ between 1980s grammar schools and university
Grammar school pupils in the 1980s were no more likely to gain degrees from “elite” universities than comprehensive pupils, research suggests.

British Embassy hosts UK Skills Expo to develop talent in UAE
The second UK Skills Expo will be held at the British Embassy Dubai. Bringing UK players in the training sector to showcase their expertise.

Dstl pairs up with academia
Dstl is strengthening relations with academia as part of this year’s Royal Society Pairing Scheme.

New AGCAS liaison officer for the pharmaceutical industry
AGCAS is pleased to announce that Ian Walker, Project Manager at the University of Leicester, is the new AGCAS liaison officer (ALO) for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

Open University protests over potential loss of 700 jobs
UCU members at the Open University will lobby a meeting of the university’s council on Tuesday (25 November) in protest at plans that could see around 700 jobs go from eight regional centres across England.

Universities and colleges step up support for social entrepreneurs
Higher education institutions (HEIs) are working together to build a national ‘ecosystem’ of support for social entrepreneurs through a series of new partnerships announced by HEFCE and UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs.

Universities that fail should be punished, says Which?
It should be easier to remove the degree-awarding powers of universities that fail to meet academic and consumer standards, a report by Which? has said.

Further Education

UKCES Employer Skills Survey 2011 – data tables
Data tables relating to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ (UKCES) Employer Skills Survey 2011.

Further education and skills – statistical first release
Success rates for 2012 to 2013 and final further education and skills data for the full 2013 to 2014 academic year.

Rates of relative low income among 16 to 24 year olds
Rates of relative low income among 16 to 24 year olds for the financial years from 1994/95 to 2012/13.

Dramatic falls in learning require radical action
The introduction of adult learning loans for those aged 24 and over has led to a dramatic fall in the numbers participating in learning. This, alongside fewer adults participating in other learning, will severely impact the prospects for long-term economic growth and for people’s ability to progress in their careers and in life.

New figures show large drop in number of adult learners and apprenticeship starts
The number of people starting an apprenticeship fell by 13.7% this year and the number of adult learners dropped by 10.7%, according to government figures released today.

Skills Funding Agency to commission in-work support for Work Programme participants following Inclusion report
The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) has released a memo to Work Programme providers outlining new provision for in-work support funded by the European Social Fund.

Trade & Growth

Business population estimates 2014
Annual business population estimates for the UK and regions in 2014.

Second Estimate of GDP, Q3 2014
UK gross domestic product (GDP) in volume terms was estimated to have increased by 0.7% between Q2 2014 and Q3 2014, unrevised from the previous estimate of GDP published 24 October 2014.

Innovate UK 2014 – watch the highlights
Over 2,000 attendees from 30 countries and a stellar line-up of speakers made Innovate UK 2014 bigger and better than ever.

Government launches maritime study to boost growth
Study that will look at how to boost the UK’s maritime industry has been launched.

Public Sector Finances, October 2014
Public sector net borrowing excluding public sector banks (PSNB ex) from April to October 2014 was £64.1 billion, an increase of £3.7 billion compared with the same period in 2013/14.

Industry Skills

Employers struggle to find ‘job-ready’ entry-level candidates
Around one in seven employers (16 per cent) were unable to fill all their entry-level vacancies in the last three years, despite a greater number of young people gaining qualifications since the recession, a report has revealed.

What is employability?
There is an initiative taking place in Plymouth this week in relation to enterprise and education.

Business Matters – Narrowing the skills gap
Adam Powell, director of skills at the West of England LEP, discusses inspiring the future of the region’s workforce.

CITB – Autumn Statement ‘must deliver infrastructure boost’
Infrastructure should be the main focus of Chancellor George Osborne’s upcoming Autumn Statement, according to an influential business group.

SkillsActive supports the launch of EMD Academy’s new training grant
SkillsActive is delighted to support the Exercise, Movement and Dance (EMD) Academy’s launch of their new training grant opportunity – the Open Bursary Scheme. The scheme aims to offer financial support to passionate individuals hoping to train or develop their career in teaching Exercise, Movement and Dance.

Academy launches upgrade plan on food safety training
The National Skills Academy for Food & Drink has launched a special online survey to determine how well current food safety training in the UK is meeting business needs.

National recognition for Black Country Skills Factory in specially commissioned film
Employer-led training partnership is hailed as a leader in the high value manufacturing (HVM) sector.

Welcome to the Creative Industries Federation
“The coming together of some of the sector’s most influential and engaged leaders to provide a strengthened voice is hugely positive.” – John Kampfner, Director

Trade Unions & Low Wages

TUC – Stronger flexible working rights would help overworked and under-employed
“It makes no sense that there are so many people wanting more work, while others complain of being overworked and want fewer hours. The government should strengthen flexible working rights, which could help solve both problems” – TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady

TUC – Low pay recovery is fuelling in-work poverty
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady comments on the report published Recently (Monday) by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation – which shows that more working households are living below the poverty line.

National minimum wage rates – survey of awareness – October 2014
Survey by one poll on behalf of BIS from 23 October to 25 October 2014 on national minimum wage awareness.

Underemployed workers in the UK – 2014
This report looks into those workers in the UK who are underemployed and want to work more hours, as well as those workers who want to work less hours, meaning they are overemployed. This report therefore looks in more detail at whether people in work are working the hours that they would like to.

UK Research Publications


Creating economically successful places – why planning is needed in a fast-changing world
Considers the major economic trends that will shape societies in the twenty-first century – from population change, globalisation and competition, to technological change and the increased scarcity of natural resources – and how planners can play a critical role in supporting sustainable economic growth.

Going for growth – reviewing the effectiveness of government growth initiatives
Assesses how policies such as new funding streams, and structures such as Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP), have stimulated development and urges a continued focus on growth. It proposes that the next government should extend devolution to the UK’s cities and regions, making local authorities and strategic areas responsible for a wider range of priorities.

Employer Perspectives Survey 2014 – UK results
Findings from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ (UKCES) Employer Perspectives Survey 2014.

Escape plan – understanding who progresses from low pay and who gets stuck
Argues that employers and government alike should review their policies and approaches to pay progression to ensure that this large part of the UK’s workforce is not denied the opportunity to move up in work. Also reveals that in many ways, progression is just one part of the wider low pay story, with small wage increases for perceived significant increases in responsibility discouraging many from moving off the first rung.

Too good to fail – the financial sustainability of higher education in England
Warns reforms to the higher education funding model have created the ‘worst of both worlds’ and have put the sector on a long-term footing that is ‘far from clear’.

Review of the Catapult network – recommendations on the future shape, scope and ambition of the programme
A review to advise on the medium-term strategy setting out the future scale and scope of the Catapult network of technology and innovation centres.

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.

Click image to enlarge, or download the full spreadsheet.

UK Labour Market, November 2014

Key Points for July to September 2014

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  • Comparing the estimates for July to September 2014 with those for April to June 2014, employment continued to rise and unemployment continued to fall. These changes maintain the general direction of movement since late 2011/early 2012.
  • There were 30.79 million people in work. This was 112,000 more than for April to June 2014 and 694,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate), was 73.0%, higher than for April to June 2014 (72.8%) and higher than for a year earlier (71.6%).
  • There were 22.52 million people working full-time, 589,000 more than for a year earlier. There were 8.27 million people working part-time, 105,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • There were 1.96 million unemployed people, 115,000 fewer than for April to June 2014 and 529,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate was 6.0%, lower than for April to June 2014 (6.3%) and lower than for a year earlier (7.6%). The unemployment rate is the proportion of the economically active population (those in work plus those seeking and available to work) who were unemployed.
  • There were 9.03 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were out of work and not seeking or available to work (known as economically inactive). This was 38,000 more than for April to June 2014 but 16,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The economic inactivity rate was 22.2%, little changed compared to April to June 2014 (22.1%) and compared to a year earlier (22.3%).
  • Pay including bonuses for employees in Great Britain was 1.0% higher than a year earlier. Pay excluding bonuses for employees in Great Britain was 1.3% higher than a year earlier.
  • Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication.

Regional Labour Market, November 2014

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  • The employment rate in Great Britain was highest in the East of England and the South East (76.5%) and lowest in the North East (69.0%).
  • The unemployment rate in Great Britain was highest in the North East (9.2%) and lowest in the South East (4.6%).
  • The inactivity rate in Great Britain was highest in Wales (25.8%) and lowest in the East of England (19.4%).
  • The Claimant Count rate in Great Britain was highest in the North East (4.7%) and lowest in the South East (1.6%).
  • Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication.

Local growth deals – an early assessment
The latest in the series being carried out jointly by CEDOS and the ADEPT Planning, Regeneration & Housing Board and its predecessors focusing on local authority economic development.

Economic growth through devolution – towards a plan for cities and counties across England
Sets out a detailed approach to devolution to city regions and city-county areas in England to enable them to drive local and national economic growth.

Big data analytics – assessment of demand for labour and skills 2013–2020
Investigates the big data skills gap in the UK economy. Contends that demand for big data skills is surging and if the skills gap is not addressed the digital economy in the UK will be severely hampered.

Measuring digital skills – from digital skills to tangible outcomes project report
Aims to develop new survey measures of people’s digital skills, digital engagement and outcomes of Internet use.

European Programmes – Latest

Urban Europe – understanding how UK cities compete – Edinburgh & Glasgow
Argues that Edinburgh and Glasgow are two of Europe’s great cities. They are very different in size and character, and have contrasting, but equally dynamic, business bases.

RDPE Skills and training: guide for applicants
If you are an adult working in the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors or are a rurally located small business there may be training opportunities you can sign up to.

Migrants in low-skilled work
Migration Advisory Committee report on the the growth of European Union (EU) and non-EU labour in low-skilled jobs and its impact on the UK.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office economic factsheets
Economic factsheets briefly summarising key economic data for over 180 countries and territories. Download the EU factsheet. See the link below for all factsheets…

Sector Skills Publications

Accelerating economic growth – delivery plan financial year 2014-15
Describes how Innovate UK will identify markets and technology areas with the greatest potential for growth. This work complements the government’s new long-term approach to industrial strategy.

Europe’s low carbon industries – a health check
Assesses the market development and state of innovation of a selection of Europe’s low carbon industries compared to those in the rest of the world.


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.

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.

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.