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Higher Level Skills in the Tees Valley. Dr Ruth Helyer Dionne Lee Teesside University. Remember Leitch and the Challenges?. UK has an under-qualified & under-skilled workforce 70% of the 2020 UK workforce have already left school Limited employer understanding of higher skills needs

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Higher level skills in the tees valley

Higher Level Skills in the Tees Valley

Dr Ruth Helyer

Dionne Lee

Teesside University

Remember leitch and the challenges
Remember Leitch and the Challenges?

  • UK has an under-qualified& under-skilled workforce

  • 70% of the 2020 UK workforce have already left school

  • Limited employer understanding of higher skills needs

  • 40% of adults to be qualified to level 4 by 2020

  • Recent publications (Ambition 2020) claim many Leitch predictions are unlikely to be achieved

Higher level skills in the tees valley

  • Government publications are still citing higher level skills as vital to the UK’s recovery from recession and future prosperity (L4and above) – ‘skills with economic significance’

  • These are also the skills which develop the whole person - community, social, professional, personal facets (CPD)

  • UK HE has a reputation for producing graduates with these skills – prepared for work and life

  • ‘We cannot respond to the global economic challenges if we do not develop the potential of all our people’ (Higher Ambitions)

The added value of he
The Added Value of HE

  • ‘... learning how to learn, learning how to think; intellectual curiosity; the challenge and excitement of new ideas...’

    (Cable 2010)

Focus on future jobs
Focus on Future Jobs

Employers & employees need higher level skills for jobs and industries that don’t yet exist: changeable, adaptable, pre-emptive

  • Skills for Growth (The National Skills Strategy)(BIS 2009A)

    • New Industries New Jobs – Building Britain’s Future (BERR 2009)

    • NewSkills for New Jobs: Action Now (European Commission 2010)

    • The future is more than just tomorrow: Higher Education, the economy and the longer term (Universities UK 2010)

Higher level skills in the tees valley

  • Employable graduates are required to fill skill shortage areas

  • There are also skills gaps within the capabilities of individual employees who are already in the workplace

  • UKCES (Skills for Jobs: Today and Tomorrow, 2010)suggest that 1/20 employers suffer from skillsshortages, whereas 1/5 suffer from skills gaps

Higher level skills in the tees valley

Research into:

  • Skills gaps in key Tees Valley

  • sectors

  • Provision of Higher Level Skills

  • Potential future scenarios


  • Online Survey

  • Literature Review

  • Interviews

  • Case studies (http://www.teesvalleyunlimited.gov.uk)

Higher level skills in the tees valley

  • 41% of training delivered by universities

  • 31% of respondents participated in HLS training in the last 12 months – Sector Specific & Generic – for example:

    • Leadership & Management

    • MBA

    • Software Training & Development

    • Commercial Awareness

  • 72% of these were managers

  • Many employees operating at L4 and above without formal qualifications

  • Higher level skills in the tees valley

    • 25% planning to participate in higher level training in future:

      • 100% had company training plans

      • 44%had a training budget

      • 55% used TNA tools

    • 25% planning to participate in higher level training in future:

      • 88% were doing so in order to develop the company

      • 77% were doing so in order to expand

      • 44%were doing so in order to diversify


    So, What do Companies Think??

    What companies think
    What Companies Think

    Change is unavoidable

    ‘The company needs to move into other areas of business in order to expand and grow; we will only be able to do this by investing in the right training for our employees’ (Engineering Company)

    Companies will invest, especially if:

    • In long term plan/strategy

    • Mandated/legally required

    What companies think1
    What Companies Think

    Investing in training is essential

    ‘Over the next several years we will expand and grow, but only if we invest in training for our employees…’ (Engineering company)

    What companies think2
    What Companies Think

    Who delivers the training matters

    ‘Practitioners are often the best qualified to train others and academics should work with them whenever possible’ (Manufacturing Company)

    What companies think3
    What Companies Think

    The HE skills landscape is confusing

    ‘Education providers need to explain what higher level skills actually are and what they can do for an employee’s potential and an organisation’s success’

    (Interviewee from Training Company)

    What companies think4
    What Companies Think

    Clear lines of communication are essential between stakeholders

    ‘We need more training providers who are prepared to talk to businesses and ask what our needs are’ (Engineering Company)

    Gather LMI to ensure that skills policies and HEI’s programmes evolve and stay relevant

    What companies think5
    What Companies Think


    ‘More than anything, training has to be business relevant and providers need to be very flexible in developing and delivering training packages that are tailored to individual needs’

    (Manufacturing Company)

    What companies think6
    What Companies Think

    There needs to be a balance between general and specific skills

    • ‘We can help them with the subject skills – but it’s often the generic skills which are lacking’(Interviewee from Training Company)

    • ‘Employers expect graduates to be ‘oven-ready’ (Interviewee from Sector-wide Body)

    Employability transferable life skills
    Employability/Transferable/Life Skills

    • Well rounded, professionally developed, individuals

    • Adaptable/flexible/dynamic workforce, who:

      • Strive to meet challenges

      • Understand how to learn

      • Are better equipped for both professional & private life

      • Are aware of/practice CPD

    • These skills make a difference in an increasingly constrained employment market


    What kind of skills do you think our survey respondents asked for?

    Examples cited by survey respondents
    Examples Cited by Survey Respondents

    • Presentation skills

    • Thinking strategically and analytically

    • Leadership & Management

    • Business Development

    • Sales Skills – negotiating

    • Communication skills

    • Numeracy – in context

    • Marketing

    • IT & Software Training

    • Commercial Awareness

    • Innovation and creativity

    • Legal issues – IP etc

    • Common sense

    • Being polite & punctual

    • Problem solving

    • Initiative

    • Organising skills

    • Interpersonal skills

    • Making connections

    • Writing skills

    • Working independently

    What companies think7
    What Companies Think


    The sector needs more training that is relevant to companies’ specific industries and is assessed on the job (Logistics Company)

    ...ideally provide[s] short modules and tailored to individual needs… (Digital Media Company)


    What can HEIs do?

    What can heis do
    What can HEIs do?


    • Clear and accessible progression routes

    • Spring/Summer uni

    • Short concentrated bites of learning

    • At flexible times and locations

    • Accredited (or not)

    • Framework style qualifications

    • Master-classes

    • Placements/sandwich courses etc…………………………

    What heis can do
    What HEIs can do?

    • Develop more PG skills provision

      ‘The sector is predominantly a graduate sector, we would like to see more training opportunities at a post-graduate level’ (Digital Media Organisation)

    • Create Lifelong Learners

      ‘Innovations are so rapid, to be successful you must be prepared to strive to continuously develop your skills and knowledge’ (Digital Media Organisation)

    What next
    What Next?

    The future holds uncertainty, but:

    • ‘Curriculum at the speed of light’

    • Information is vital – communication (which sometimes requires translation), LMI, research etc

    • Economic squeeze on jobs – graduates need to stand out

    • Continue to question and evolve the role of HLS and HE in developing the workforce of the future

    Higher level skills in the tees valley

    Dr Ruth Helyer

    Head of Workforce Development

    (Research and Policy)

    Teesside University


    01642 384268

    Dionne Lee

    VCE Policy Officer

    Teesside University


    01642 738146