Employment and Skills

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


West Yorkshire is the largest labour market in the North of England, with strengths in manufacturing, financial and professional services, and the rapidly developing fields of digital and healthcare technology. Our diversity, rich cultural heritage and geography makes West Yorkshire one of the country’s best places to live, study and work.

Our Vision is for West Yorkshire to be a world-leading region where investment in skills, training and education, and support from employers go hand in hand to create a diverse, inclusive, and highly skilled workforce with good jobs, leading to sustained improvements in the quality of life for all.

What success will look like

We want West Yorkshire to be a place where:

  • There are no barriers to people taking up, progressing and succeeding in learning and work, and where they are supported into good employment
  • Employers recognise the value of a diverse workforce and invest in their talent to develop the skills that will improve productivity and support progression in the workplace
  • Individuals value lifelong learning and are able to make decisions about their development, informed by quality, relevant careers information based on the reality on the ground
  • World class teaching and training provides flexible learning opportunities that align to the strategic needs of the local economy.


  • Diverse local economy with key strengths in sectors like manufacturing and finance. Strong growth in culture, media and sport.
  • Digital employment is growing rapidly and presents a key opportunity to boost the performance of the local economy and provide opportunities for individuals.
  • Future infrastructure investment, including mass transit, presents an opportunity to connect local people to jobs related to the construction and operation of such schemes.
  • West Yorkshire has a high performing further education sector offering diverse range of provision, strong community engagement and good level of quality.
  • Large and diverse HE sector attracting significant net inflow of students each year.
  • Joint venture with West Yorkshire Colleges Consortium working with Leeds City Region LEP to address region’s skills priorities
  • Devolution deal, including Adult Education
  • Investment through skills capital funding into 10 major infrastructure projects to world class training facilities to deliver skills needed in the region including: Process manufacturing centre, Kirklees; Quarry Hill, healthcare and life sciences, Leeds; Advance Skills and Innovation Centre, Wakefield.
  • Strong strategic relationships with employers
  • Established Skills Advisory Panel / Employment and Skills Panel
  • Future-ready Skills Commission
  • Futuregoals careers inspiration platform for students, parents and adults including an adult retraining offer [re]boot/bootcamps


  • Skills levels at level 4+ are below the national average, there is significant over-representation of people with low / no qualifications in West Yorkshire and large numbers basic literacy and numeracy.
  • Around two-thirds of employers expect future upskilling needs. Many report they are unable to find the skills they need.
  • Many local employers acknowledge that they under-invest in skills and training and few have a structured approach to managing their talent.
  • A significant proportion of workers lack the full proficiency to do their jobs. Among the skills that need improving are management skills, basic digital skills and “soft” / interpersonal skills.
  • West Yorkshire has more than twice its “fair share” of neighbourhoods that are among the most acutely deprived in terms of adult skills.
  • West Yorkshire’s unemployment rate is above the national average. The claimant count (the number of jobless people claiming benefits) has been on an upward trend for some time.
  • Main source of under-performance in local economy is weak productivity growth but West Yorkshire also lags the national average in terms of the proportion of people in employment. Both of these issues can be partly addressed through investment in economically valuable skills.
  • Under-representation of people qualified at higher level and over-representation of people with low or no qualifications.
  • Large numbers of people lack basic literacy and numeracy skills that provide a basis for further learning and progression. English language proficiency is also an issue in parts of West Yorkshire.
  • Skill shortages for technical roles at professional, skilled trades and technician levels constrain firm-level productivity and the performance of the wider economy.
  • Need to increase graduate retention rate from local higher education institutions to increase access to higher level skills in local economy.
  • The disadvantaged are less likely to enter either apprenticeships or higher education, hindering social mobility. Females are much less likely to pursue technical subjects limiting their future earning potential.​

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.
  • 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 ethnic minorities 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 refreshed and extended as a minimum to all AEB grant recipients and could be included for all AEB provider recipients (grants and procured).
  • The Local Digital Skills Partnership has been created to address the lack of digital skills across West Yorkshire and support coherent access to digital skills for all to support greater proficiency in the workplace and raise productivity across West Yorkshire.

The following areas include our delivery activities:

Careers and retraining

The adult skills training programme give individuals the opportunity to upskill, gain new skills or qualifications and enter employment within key regional sectors and get people back into work through training courses and tailored support programmes.

Programmes will offer training for those recently unemployed or at risk of redundancy, focussed on priority sectors for employment growth including digital, construction, engineering, the green economy and health and social care. Training is endorsed and supported by employers in order to support and respond to employers  vacancies and  skills 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 and tools to understand regional labour market information  www.futuregoals.co.uk

The Schools Partnership Team 

 The School Partnership Team matches business volunteers to schools and colleges for strategic work, promotion of progression pathways after year 11 and utilises labour market information to raise the aspirations of young people in the Leeds City Region. Schools and colleges in our network belong to: Kirklees Career Hub, Special Education needs Careers Hub or members in the Enterprise Advisor Network. 

 Kirklees Careers Hub 

The Kirklees Careers Hub was set up to help transform careers education for young people and is made up of 35 local schools and colleges working together with universities, training providers, employers and career professionals to improve careers education. 

 The working groups within the Hub focus on: 

  • Removing barriers to social mobility 
  • Staff training and continuing professional development 
  • Supporting schools and colleges to work strategically to deliver careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEAIG). 

 The Leeds City Region Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Careers Hub  

 The Leeds City Region Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Careers Hub is made up of 29 schools and colleges across the Leeds City Region and aims to improve the positive destinations and increase employer engagement opportunities for SEND individuals. The Hub encourages schools and colleges to work in partnership, offering careers support, work experience and training opportunities through a sustainable network of teachers, careers leads and local employers.  

 If you are interested in finding out more about how you can support the Kirklees Careers Hub or Leeds City Region SEND Careers Hub please contact The Schools Partnership Team at EnterpriseAdvisers@the-lep.com 

 The Enterprise Advisor Network  

 The Enterprise Adviser (EA) Network brings together senior business leaders and schools to help inspire young people about their future career options. If you volunteered as an EA, nationally you would be one of 2,000 Enterprise Advisors.  The network is part of Careers and Enterprise Company  linking employers to help deliver world-class careers support for all young people. 

Over the last six years, the Enterprise Adviser Network has recruited and trained over 230 business leaders as Enterprise Advisers, helped to create 177 employer engagement strategies with schools, and reached over 86,000 students across the Leeds City Region. 

Virtual work experience  

 Virtual work experience offers are being developed in partnership with Go Higher West Yorkshire and local employers with the first set launched in Spring 2021. They highlight skills required for the spotlighted sectors, and the current skills gaps within Leeds City Region.  

 The virtual work experience includes virtual tours, positive role model videos sectoral based challenges linked to the curriculum, and a combination of live and pre-recorded sessions. 

Visit the website here. 

 If you would like more details on any of our education work please contact (either add email or form) EnterpriseAdvisers@the-lep.com with your query and contact details. 

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.  As part of our plans to support economic recovery, the offer has been expanded to support to people of all ages in the Leeds City Region area with employment and advice and guidance.

Employment Hub 1 ran from January 2019 to December 2021. Click here to see the evaluation report. The Employment Hub 2 programme continues to support individuals in West Yorkshire to find their next opportunity. Click here to find out more.

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.

  • A green skills partnership has been set up to bring together employers, providers and interested stakeholders to address the projected demand for ‘green skills’ to meet our ambitious climate change targets.

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 ethnic minorities. 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

  • The Future-Ready Skills Commission undertook a radical review of what is needed in a 21 century skills system.  The Commission published its blueprint for a post-16 skills system that set out the roles and responsibilities of national government and the those that should be devolved. The Commission clearly made the case that to be effective, skills provision needs to be delivered at a local level, informed by labour market information and backed up with structures and funding to address an area’s current and future skills needs.

Page last updated: 08/06/2021