THE region has been handed new powers to develop a workforce fit for the future.
The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) is as one of just three across the country chosen to pilot new ways of funding skills development, to help boost job creation and business growth.
NELEP and the North East Leadership Board of seven councils will work with the Skills Funding Agency to draw up proposals which could come into effect as early as September.
Andrew Hodgson, NELEP board member for skills development, alongside Anne Isherwood, of Sunderland College, said: “It’s great news that the ideas we put forward to the Government for the skills funding model are now being driven forward.
“And that the North East LEP is one of only three in the country to pilot this innovative skills funding model.
“The LEP has put the focus firmly on skills from the outset, and this model will be hugely important in helping to develop skills at every level.
“Effective skills and training programmes tailored to fit our area’s key sectors, for all ages of workers, answer the immediate needs of employers as well as the future demands of our local economy.”
The pilot scheme’s success will depend on a strong partnership with colleges and independent training providers, as well as employers.
Mr Hodgson added: “It’s clear we need to think and act locally to create and strengthen a workforce with skills clearly linked to the North East economy and its key sectors.
“With the LEP, North East Leadership Board, businesses, colleges, and training companies working closely together, we will help to drive growth through the capabilities of highly skilled people, trained and working in the North East.”
Lord Andrew Adonis, who led the North East Independent Economic Review, said: “Our review of the North East economy highlighted the importance of matching current and future skills provision to demand in the labour market.
“As an area with a diverse and growing private sector economy that faces skills shortages in a number of sectors this new-found opportunity is a major step forward.
“I’m delighted the leadership of the North East in this debate is being recognised with this additional form of devolution.
“I look forward to seeing this brave new approach realise its target of more and better jobs in the future.”