In a report published today and entitled Reviving Regions, the organisation says the government should transform job centres into hubs with strong local and regional autonomy to respond to changing local job markets and align with local and regional skills and education initiatives.
The report, sponsored by Lloyds Banking Group, also says that local enterprise partnerships and Growth Hubs have to have the “resource and capacity” to deliver locally specific skills support. “This should address the barriers SMEs face in investing in skills and should support the UK’s global ambitions for net-zero and digital industries,” according to the report.
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It also says the government should establish a “roadmap for the future of adult skills”, including the devolution of adult skills funding to areas with devolution deals to drive innovative approaches to reskilling and upskilling across regions.
The devolution of adult skills funding
The CBI says targeted action to boost skills, develop physical and digital infrastructure and attract fresh investment will be vital if all parts of England are to build back better from the economic ravages of the coronavirus. The report highlights long-standing regional inequalities across England, which, the CBI says, limit growth and opportunity and inhibit productivity.
It calls for a long-term strategic vision that can guide the country through a vital post-Covid recovery and towards long-term prosperity by addressing key challenges in growing skills, enhancing connectivity and attracting investment.
Matthew Fell, CBI chief UK policy director, said: “The twin threats of Covid-19 and a potential no-deal Brexit have created a devastating and unprecedented economic challenge. Building back quickly and effectively is essential, but a recovery driven only by limited pockets of productivity is far from a real recovery, and hardly the basis for a brighter future.
“Businesses in every corner of England stand ready and willing to play their part in the economic rebound, but too often see their efforts hampered by inadequate infrastructure and limited access to skilled workers.
“The government must therefore prioritise long-term investment in the critical structures, training and innovation needed to support jobs and quality of life around the UK. This long-overdue levelling-up can lay the foundation for a better, greener and fairer economy for all.”
Jo Harris, one of Lloyds Banking Group's 10 ambassadors for the nations and regions of the UK, said: “Every part of the UK has a vital role in rebuilding the economy and our communities in the wake of this pandemic. The CBI’s Reviving Regions report is an important contribution to the debate about how we boost jobs, drive growth and attract investment to our towns and cities so they can play their full part in supporting the national and regional recovery.
“Lloyds Banking Group is committed to helping every part of the UK build back from the effects of the pandemic and many of the themes highlighted in this report echo what we have heard through the Big Conversation, our own programme which brings together political leaders, businesses and policy experts to explore the best road to recovery across the UK.”