Skills and knowledge development were at the forefront of the latest meeting of the Greater Brighton Economic Board, held Tuesday 18 October in Newhaven.  Chairman of the Board, and Leader of Worthing Borough Council, Daniel Humphreys, takes up the story.

“The Greater Brighton Economic Board is now in its third year of operation and was formed in order to harness the creativity, innovation and determination that flows through the City Region towards a sustainable, resilient, economy.

“The progress made to date on many of the infrastructure projects is clear and we are now awaiting the Autumn Statement to learn the fate of the Growth Deal Bids we have made this year.  Assuming that these are successful, we can expect to see the best part of £1billion invested into the City Region in the medium term with nearly 10,000 jobs created and almost 6,000 homes built for those who are driving our Region’s economy forward, alongside a significant amount of commercial floorspace as well.

“Underpinning this growth will be a highly educated, skilled workforce with access to lifelong learning opportunities.  The Economic Board is driving forward an ambition to create an Apprenticeship Brokerage Service – an innovation which will make it easier for businesses of all sizes to access the training, and workforce, they will need for sustained growth.

“We know that the apprenticeship landscape is changing and the development of the Brokerage Service is a creative way to improve engagement between schools and businesses, as well as promoting an improved understanding with parents about the potential of apprenticeships for their children.

“We also know that the current system is not easily navigated for small and medium sized businesses who would benefit the most from it, but who don’t have the time required to become experts in the different options.  The Greater Brighton Apprenticeship Brokerage Service would  act as a conduit between employers and training providers and help them access the pipeline of talent needed for economic growth.

“I have been delighted to hear today that we are determined to launch the Brokerage Service and that a consultation is underway via the Employer Action Group – which has representatives across the City Region – with key levy payers in the region to explore how this offer will meet employers’ needs as we approach the advent of the Apprenticeship levy in April 2017. This of course follows on from the launch of the Digital Apprenticeship Service in January, which will see national attention focused on the potential of apprentices.

“In a major coup for the City Region, we’ve also learnt today that Brighton and Sussex Universities will be co-hosting the British Science Festival 2017 – the first time that it’s been held here since 1983.  Between 5th and 9th September 2017, thousands of people will have the opportunity to discover cutting edge developments and debate key issues facing our society.  With access to some of the world’s top scientists, engineers, technologists and social scientists, this will be an unparalleled opportunity to inspire a generation of learners of all ages.

“Finally, we have also heard some exceptionally good news regarding the City Region’s application to the One Public Estate fund.  While a formal announcement is yet to be made, I can say that the City Region will soon benefit from substantial Government investment allowing us to take a new approach to the use of public land for housing, employment stimulus and as an opportunity to transform public services.

“This is a region which is growing; a region which means business and a region which will be a major driver of the South East economy.  I am, and continue to be, proud to serve as the Chair of the Greater Brighton Economic Board during this exceptionally exciting time.”