Latest Updates From Surrey Chambers CEO – 22nd August 2023

22nd August 2023

Ambitious action plan for skills

Creating a mechanism to deliver cultural and behavioural change in the local skills system is central to the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP), published this month by Surrey Chambers of Commerce following approval from the Secretary of State for Education. The report and accompanying action plan outlines key priorities for the local area to help reshape the technical skills system to better meet the needs of employers and the wider economy. The LSIP identifies four key priorities for the area. Improving information, advice & guidance; facilitating responsive and inclusive curricula; coordinating networks and collaboration and building dynamic relationships between businesses and providers.

The LSIP area, comprising Surrey and North and Mid Hampshire has over 99,000 businesses, a working age population of around 1.2million people and a rich mix of industries with particular strengths in professional, scientific & technical and ICT employment. The local economy is underpinned by a broad offer of post-16 technical education and training; the majority of which is provided by further education colleges but complemented by other, independent providers – many represented by the Association of Learning Providers in Surrey and Hampshire (ALPS and ALPHI) network.

The LSIP report sets out both the strengths and challenges faced by the local economy. Although the area is highly productive and a major contributor to the Exchequer, the tight labour market puts real pressure on businesses trying to recruit and retain talent with the right mix of skills. The LSIP is based on robust evidence following interactions with more than 1000 businesses over the last 8 months. One thing we all agree on is that we need the involvement of employers to make sure we are delivering to meet their needs. Surrey Chambers is proud to be leading on a project to help facilitate this engagement with employers and we will be urging them to be part of the drive to create a truly responsive, local skills system.

The upcoming Future Skills Forum Launch event, on 19 September, will bring together local skills providers and employers from all the key sectors in our area and will provide an opportunity for collaboration and partnership working.

Economy update 

Consumer price inflation continued to ease in July, however, this comes off the back of months of high prices which have hit businesses hard, and many firms have yet to see the cost of raw materials fall. In our last Quarterly economic survey companies reported no improvement to sales, cash flow, or investment and high interest rates are now of real concern. Investment across all sectors is suffering because of the cost of borrowing and until businesses are confident that interest rates have reached their peak this is unlikely to change or improve their confidence levels.

We are always keen to hear from businesses through our Quarterly economic survey to ensure that Surrey businesses voices are heard. CLICK HERE TO COMPLETE THE SURVEY

Surrey Chambers of Commerce can be reached on 01483 735540,, @surreychambers

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