IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


IOE leads national conference on closing the higher skills gap

7 February 2018

A conference led by UCL Institute of Education (IOE), bringing together leaders in business, education, academia and policy to look at how to improve technical and vocational education takes place in Leeds today (7 February).

Apprentice welder

The West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges (WYCC), which represents seven colleges in the area, hosted the event. The event also involves the Education Training Foundation (ETF) and East Midlands Further Education Council (EMFEC).

The conference will explore ways to improve technical and vocational education in the context of devolved regional planning, and build better partnership working between employers and educators. The ultimate aim is to enhance regional skills planning and delivery in order to improve productivity, and so work towards closing the skills gap that exists in the UK.

Delegates and speakers from across the country will give their opinions and share experiences on working in partnership with other organisations. The Consortium's strong links with education and employers meant that they could invite a selection of delegates who will provide a representative and informed voice for the Leeds City Region, and from key national figures.

Paul Grainger, Co-Director of the Centre for Post-14 Education and Work at the IOE, said: "We are working on some significant research into regional skills systems and are particularly interested in the role of national colleges in relation to regional requirements. We want to open the discussion with colleges, employers and regional policy leads into their relationships and methods when it comes to developing higher level technical skills.

"The choice of Leeds is, in part, to capture some of the energy around the Northern Powerhouse and in part because of the excellent strategic use made of Labour Market Intelligence by the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges."

Alison Morris, ETF Director for Sector Development, said: "We are delighted to be involved with this conference. Regional and national employer-provider partnerships are vital in building a strong and robust technical education system, and the collaboration between the ETF and partner organisations has supported a comprehensive exploration of some of the key issues."

Ian Billyard, Chair of the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges and Principal at Leeds College of Building said: "Colleges' engagement with industry is becoming more critical to the future success of the sector. This can be seen in two major policy initiatives: Apprenticeships and the new T Levels which, as part of the course, require students to have a significant period in industry in preparation for transition into employment or Apprenticeships." 

Media contact

Margaret-Anne Orgill, UCL Media Relations
+44 (0)20 3108 3845