Over 180 representatives drawn from Lancashire businesses, schools, colleges and stakeholders gathered at the Barton Grange Hotel in Preston recently for the launch of Lancashire’s Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) Toolkit.
The LMI Toolkit, which was commissioned by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), includes a new in-depth study of Lancashire’s recent employment performance together with projected demands for different jobs and skills across the county in the future.
For the first time, it also contains a series of in-depth area profiles which highlight specific local data for all of Lancashire’s major conurbations and regions. These include detailed factsheets for Preston, Chorley and South Ribble; Lancaster and Morecambe; West Lancashire; Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre; Burnley and Pendle; Blackburn, Hynburn, Rossendale and Ribble Valley.
The new research revealed that between 2014 – 2017 the number of people employed had risen across every part of Lancashire, and that the unemployment rate in the county was below both the regional and national average. In total it reports the county has 53,800 more people in employment since 2014.
Delegates were also told that Lancashire’s employment rate has risen significantly faster (+6.5%) than the rest of the UK (excluding London) since 2014 (+2.5%), and that over the last decade the county had outperformed the rest of the North West in terms of overall job growth.
In terms of unemployment, Lancashire’s rate of 4.4% is below the regional and national levels. In real terms this means there were 22,700 fewer unemployed people than in 2014
The data also suggested that more highly skilled jobs were on the increase, with an additional 20,000 people employed at this level since 2014.
Further, figures indicated that employment had consistently grown in six out of the LEP’s seven priority economic sectors since 2015, and that the county enjoyed a higher than average rate of employment among young people. The findings also indicated that significant employment growth was expected in the county over the next ten years.
However, despite the overwhelmingly positive forecasts for employment, the research also identified a number of challenges linked to skills, training, education and demographics which lay ahead for Lancashire and could impact on fulfilling its full economic potential.
LEP board director Graham Cowley, who officially opened the conference, said: “The LEP is a private sector-led organisation which works in partnership with the public sector to drive economic growth in the county. This includes supporting skills and careers initiatives through the Lancashire Skills & Employment Hub, which we fund.
“The launch of the LEP’s labour market intelligence toolkit will help all of the Hub’s partners identify the best future work opportunities for Lancashire students, directing them towards successful careers while also underpinning growth in the Lancashire economy.”
The conference was also a celebration of the success of the county’s thriving Enterprise Adviser Network, an innovative careers and enterprise programme for Lancashire which matches local schools with volunteers from local businesses to help boost employment prospects for young people.
Co-funded by Lancashire County Council and The Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC), and delivered by Inspira on behalf of the Lancashire LEP’s Skills & Employment Hub, the Network now involves over 134 volunteer strategic leaders from business – Enterprise Advisers – who are working directly with 122 Lancashire schools and colleges.
Claudia Harris, Chief Executive of The Careers & Enterprise Company, said: “It was fantastic to be part of the Lancashire Skills Conference and to celebrate the strength and success of the Enterprise Adviser Network which is now operating in nearly all schools and colleges in the region.
“We are working so that by 2020 every young people should have at least one workplace encounter from school years 7-13 and we are delighted to be collaborating with our partners the LEP and local authority in Lancashire and Inspira to help make this happen.”