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Hertfordshire is powering the UK’s future

Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership has a 10 year legacy of partnering with higher and further education to create the foundations for growth for our current and future workforce. Adrian Hawkins OBE, Chair, Stevenage Development Board and Chair, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Skills and Employment Board (SAP) outlines why these relationships are so vital in driving recovery from COVID-19 and renewal in Hertfordshire and the UK

Adrian Hawkins

Hertfordshire LEP together with the University of Hertfordshire supports the University Alliance’s Powering the UK’s Future campaign. This will further amplify the role higher education plays by working hand in hand with other organisations to drive future prospects and prosperity.

“Here in Hertfordshire we have solid foundations for growth with the University of Hertfordshire, four high-performing FE colleges and a strong legacy of partnership working to deliver skills and employment opportunities. Together we are united by one common purpose: to unlock potential and widen access for all, encouraging social mobility and demonstrating that all aspects of the skills agenda, i.e. apprenticeships and traineeships are valued options. Our ‘ground-up’ approach, rooted in local knowledge and tied to our communities, will be the bedrock of our national recovery. Hertfordshire LEP together with the University of Hertfordshire supports the University Alliance’s Powering the UK’s future campaign. This will further amplify the role higher education plays by working hand in hand with other organisations to drive future prospects and prosperity.

Powering businesses and growth

“Skills are the common currency that powers our economy and are a dynamic driver of enterprise, investment and new industry. This link between education and industry is vital to ensure that we are creating the right skills for our key sectors and championing innovation and entrepreneurship. Hertfordshire Growth Hub, the county’s flagship business support provider, is powered by Hertfordshire LEP and part delivered by the University of Hertfordshire.

“Over the past year, the role of Growth Hubs has been strengthened nationally to meet the huge increased need for business support during COVID-19. Hertfordshire LEP in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire and Hertfordshire Growth Hub devised the Volunteer Business Support Scheme, a free and confidential 1-2-1 mentoring programme. The scheme launched in June 2020 and through its network of experienced mentors it has supported more than 190 businesses, providing over 600 hours of 1-2-1 support. Due to its success and excellent feedback, it has now been extended until November. The national Peer Networks Programme, delivered locally by Hertfordshire Growth Hub consortium partner, the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, gives SMEs an opportunity to network with fellow businesses, collaborate to find solutions to common issues, and access expert business advice and support.

“In December, the University of Hertfordshire opened its new £12m Enterprise Hub at its de Havilland campus in Hatfield, with a £2.5m Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire LEP. The Hub will significantly enhance and expand existing support available to businesses in the region by providing flexible business incubation, office space, teaching and social areas under one roof, to facilitate greater collaboration between students, academics and the business community.

Powering people and jobs

“A new report from The Prince’s Trust and the Learning and Work Institute, supported by HSBC UK, warns that youth unemployment will remain high after other areas of the economy begin to recover, costing the UK economy almost £7 billion next year.

“Our Hertfordshire Supports Apprenticeships campaign, supported by a broad coalition of HE, FE, apprenticeship providers, schools, employers and other stakeholders, sends out a very clear message that apprenticeships are valued and viable career path options. In so doing it will help to:

  • Deliver a diverse resident workforce fit for the future;
  • Raise the skills and productivity levels of those already in work;
  • Showcase the resilience of apprentices and employers during COVID-19.

“Here in Hertfordshire we are very fortunate to have the Hertfordshire Opportunities Portal (HOP), masterminded by the Hertfordshire LEP’s Skills and Employment Board, which connects employers with future skills pipelines. Residents can access the information they need to make informed decisions on career path options including Further Education, Higher Education, professional qualifications, work experience and job opportunities; employers can reach and recruit their future talent and upskill and provide progression opportunities for existing staff. Up and down the country, every LEP Board has HE and FE representation and our Careers and Enterprise Company Enterprise Adviser Network convenes local expertise to align with schools and colleges to help shape courses, ensuring the right skills for the right jobs.

Powering communities

“Universities also have a critical role to play in the future of places and delivering the Government’s Plan for Growth. Our plans for levelling up opportunities in Stevenage (see Stevenage Development Board plans here) are greatly enhanced by the University of Hertfordshire’s presence and our four FE colleges. Following our successful bid, Stevenage was awarded £37.5m from the Government’s Towns Fund, a £3.6 billion fund used to help deliver the government’s plan to level up our regions by using different indicators of need and deprivation. This funding will help to enhance STEM skills facilities with the support of North Herts College and the University of Hertfordshire, unlocking future growth in our world-leading key sector industries, such as life sciences and advanced manufacturing, and providing real, high-value opportunities for local people.

“Our combined efforts to deliver a ‘workforce for tomorrow’ (Planning for the Future: Hertfordshire Local Skills Report, 2021) across Hertfordshire and our neighbouring counties will be greatly enhanced by the University Alliance’s policies to power the UK’s future. This campaign will create a broader understanding of the nation’s skills needs with a greater focus on excellent delivery to power a national economic, social and cultural recovery from COVID-19. It will present real benefits and opportunities to students and local employers and speak with ‘one voice’ to Government. We fully support and encourage this initiative to help power the UK and Hertfordshire’s future.”