Employment and Skills

A skilled and flexible workforce that meets the needs of the local economy and enables businesses and communities to thrive.


A skilled and flexible workforce that meets the needs of the local economy and enables businesses and communities to thrive. This is delivered through world class learning opportunities, with a training culture and facilities that are valued by employers and individuals. Provision is accessible to individuals from all backgrounds, with support and signposting to achieve their personal ambitions.

What success will look like

The region has a highly skilled, diverse and flexible workforce that has access to good jobs and contributes to a productive, resilient and innovative economy.

Employers are able to influence training provision that supports the progression of a diverse workforce.

There is a stable learning provider base offering good quality education aligned to labour market needs.

The attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils during statutory education is closed. Everyone values and is able to access high quality careers information and support, and they understand how to access their entitlements in relation to careers guidance and training.


  • World class universities, and a net import of graduates in the region
  • Culturally diverse communities, with England’s youngest city in Bradford
  • Vibrant cities, rolling countryside and affordable housing making it a great place to live and work
  • Delivery agreements with seven West Yorkshire colleges
  • Joint venture with seven West Yorkshire Colleges Consortium working with the LEP to address region’s skills priorities
  • Investment through skills capital funding in 10 major infrastructure projects and world class training facilities to deliver skills needed in the region including:
  • Process Manufacturing Centre, Kirklees
  • Quarry Hill, Leeds
  • Advance Skills and Innovation Centre, Wakefield
  • Strong strategic relationships with employers
  • Futuregoals careers platform for students, parents and adults including an adult retraining offer [re]boot


  • Skills levels at level 4+ are below the national average
  • Around two-thirds of employers expect future upskilling needs, many report they are unable to find the skills they need, yet the majority of employers under-invest in skills
  • Replacement demands will be the source of most job openings, requiring retraining programmes in the context of a sharp decline in adult learning
  • There is a shortage or technical skills, particularly those requiring STEM skills that are vital to deliver major structural shifts required including schemes to tackle the climate emergency, transport etc.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic requires rapid rethinking of policy and support programmes to manage its impact
  • There is unequal access to job-related training, with low-skilled workers being least likely to receive training.
  • Some areas have high levels of disadvantage and there is clear evidence that links this to poor education performance, access to training and development in work and wage premiums.
  • There is a lack of diversity in leadership and management.
  • Take up of apprenticeships is slowing and is unequal for some groups, in particular young people and those from BAME backgrounds
  • Too many adults trapped in low-paid, insecure employment that is not resilient to economic shocks which could lead to high levels of unemployment
  • Too many young people do not have meaningful contact with employers, a good understanding of the careers available to them, and routes to accessing them.
  • Only 9% of employers demonstrate high performing workplace practices.
  • Nationally, the skills system is under-funded and highly centralised which leaves no flexibility for providers to respond to regional labour market skills needs.

Who’s helping make this happen

  • Employment and Skills Panel
  • Business Innovation & Growth Panel
  • NP11
  • Leeds City Region Skills Network
  • Leeds City Region Headteacher Advisory Network
  • Leeds City Region Careers Hubs
  • Local Authority partners 
  • West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges
  • Go Higher West Yorkshire & Yorkshire Universities
  • West Yorkshire Learning Providers (WYLP)

What we are doing to make this happen

Our first devolution deal has secured a number of strategic priorities:

  • Adult Education Budget (AEB) Devolution Implementation is underway, with an internal project board undertaking technical and capacity preparation, while policy and delivery staff consult on and develop the Strategic Skills Plan with key stakeholders. This AEB Strategic Skills Plan will shape commissioning and help to ensure this devolved budget better meets our regional needs and aspirations.
  • Finalising the recommendations of the Future-Ready Skills Commission and its findings on a post-16 skills system, which Government have committed to considering.
  • Opportunities for local alignment of ongoing reform to the post-16 technical education including T-levels and National Skills Fund.
  • Maximising the investment in apprenticeships including convening employers to increase the number of apprenticeships available, including via levy transfers.
  • Responding to Government requests to inform the future development of the National Skills Fund and remaining engaged on the National Retraining Scheme.
  • West Yorkshire and Government will continue to work together to prioritise support for under-represented groups in the labour market (including women, people from BAME groups, and those with a disability or health condition). This includes a government committed to working with the Region on strategic priorities in relation to people including how to provide the targeted support needed for people who are furthest away from the labour market, and those in low pay who need support to stay in work and progress.
  • Collaboration on design of local careers and enterprise interventions, for all ages.
  • There is recognition from government that future investment is required in the college estate to make sure they are up to standard.
  • To deliver these high level priorities, we have in place Delivery Agreements with all West Yorkshire FE Colleges to link their delivery and curriculum planning to the region’s skills priorities. This will be extended as a minimum to all AEB grant recipients and could be included for all AEB provider recipients (grants and procured). 

The following areas include our delivery activities:

Careers and retraining

The https://futuregoals.co.uk/reboot/ offers individuals over the age of 18 the chance to upskill, gain new skills/qualifications and enter employment within the shortage sectors of Digital and Creative, Engineering and Manufacturing, and Construction and Infrastructure.

The programme particularly targets potential career changers and unemployed and /under-employed graduates in Leeds City Region. The programme offers innovative and flexible delivery through a strategic partnership with delivery partners. Businesses from across the region have the opportunity to engage with the project to co-develop and influence course content to ensure that training addresses skills gaps and meets business needs.  

#futuregoals is an all age careers platform and campaign that showcases jobs and careers in a range of sectors. Resources have been created with a range of employers for adults, students and teachers including curriculum resources for the classroom. www.futuregoals.co.uk

Education offer

Enterprise Adviser Network (EAN): Through the EAN, we are working closely with 185 secondary schools and colleges to improve the destinations of young people, particularly those that are most disadvantaged. This includes enhanced and targeted activity in Bradford and Kirklees as well with institutions with high SEND pupils through Careers Hubs.

Since September 2018 our Enterprise network has recruited and trained over 230 business leaders as Enterprise Advisers, helped create 169 employer engagement strategies with schools and colleges. In the last five years we have reached over 33,000 students across Leeds City Region.

Raising Aspiration fund: This pilot fund has enabled 18 secondary schools to create employer co-designed provision. The project has reached reaching over 4,000 pupils - over of third of whom from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Careers Hubs funding has been matched with national Careers and Enterprise Funding to develop best practice and support skills development with employers, secondary schools, careers providers, colleges and universities.
The Skills for Growth programme enables small and medium enterprises to access education providers in a simple one stop approach with localised delivery.

Employment Offer

The LCR Employment Hub programme is delivered in partnership with Local Authorities and will support over 6,000 young people aged 15-24 to access
apprenticeships and employment. 

The Apprenticeship Levy Support service helps levy paying businesses to either use their levy funds to recruit their own apprentice or transfer their unspent levy to other businesses seeking apprenticeship funding. 

How this will meet our priorities

Boosting productivity

  • Increased workforce skills, individuals able to make better informed choices about next steps in learning, training and work, employers are able to find the skills they need and develop good work opportunities with a diverse workforce.

Tackling the climate emergency

  • In order to deliver the infrastructure required to address the climate emergency, there is an urgent need to address and resource the re-training and upskilling demand in areas of existing skills shortage areas. This includes working strategically with employers, training providers and individuals to raise awareness of the opportunities.

Enabling inclusive growth

  • Improved education, training and work outcomes for disadvantaged communities. Equity of access to learning and training, including undergraduate study from disadvantaged communities and apprenticeships for BAME. Working with employers to ensure that workers at all levels can progress in work, and that there is diversity in the workforce.

Delivering 21st century transport

  • Maximise the investment in transport by ensuring that the communities they intend to serve are able to benefit from them through jobs and better access to good work and training.

Securing money and powers

  • Devolving a range of skills budgets will enable a holistic approach to the system. By removing the plethora of agencies in the system and efficiency will be achieved in the commissioning process to design programmes that address the distinct skills requirements.

Page last updated: 26/08/20