Bold new plan to uplift Skills launched

By FSB - 11th August 2023

Local Skills Improvement Plan to transform learning, development and reskilling released Friday 11th August 2023

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has led the Government-funded project to address “critical” skills and occupation gaps

Local employers to be placed “at the heart” of the area’s skills system

A new localised strategy to equip people with the skills that businesses in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (CIoS) most urgently need to meet economic, technological, climate and social challenges has been published.

The Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) is a UK Government, Department for Education (DfE), project designed to place local employers at the heart of a specific region’s skills system. The LSIP for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly has been led and delivered by the local branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) who were chosen due to their close but independent connections to local employers, stakeholders and training professionals.

The essential theme running through this new plan is ongoing consultation with employers of all sizes and sectors to understand what skills, capabilities, qualifications, and attributes local companies need from their staff to meet growing productivity, tech, environmental and economic issues. This, alongside the need to continually collaborate with training providers in order to deliver the right range and calibre of courses to meet demand.

The new Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LSIP demonstrates that while the area has enormous economic potential in sustainable energy, manufacturing, marine, engineering, construction, retrofit and digitisation, there are a range of skills and labour vulnerabilities in the county that could threaten growth and productivity if not addressed. Work readiness, digital capabilities and leadership & management skills were all found to be of concern among employers, while growing occupational gaps in construction and engineering particularly must be closed to maximise opportunities in energy security, industrial decarbonisation and new, but lucrative, industries in the county.

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LSIP study particularly outlines the needs of local businesses, especially in light of recent shifts in the workforce. Examples such as the impact of Covid lockdowns, remote working and changes to how young people gain exposure to the workplace all emerged as issues that need remedy. Local problems in recruiting skilled tutors in certain sectors with recent industry experience has also been highlighted as an urgent need to be tackled.

The area’s peninsular geography and rurality, areas of deprivation and low wage levels, housing and transport needs, all create challenges for people accessing education and work. These are critical factors that were also highlighted in the plan which demonstrates the need to holistically tackle them with other linked local strategies to maximise success in delivering the priorities agreed.

For businesses, having a travel to work area that is mostly the sea also means that they need a high percentage of the population on land to be ready and part of a skilled workforce pool. This can create opportunity and an enriched economy when everyone feels part of the greater ambition.

Evolutions in Artificial Intelligence, automation and opportunities arising from the potential to be a world leader in sustainability and a provider of solutions to climate change also shape our Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LSIP recommendations.

The LSIP has put forward tables of easy to follow, actionable priorities that require local training providers, our local authority, stakeholders, trade bodies and businesses to make changes before June 2025. The plan has been formally approved by the Secretary of State for Education The Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP.

The local lead for the LSIP and author of the approved report is Ann Vandermeulen, Development Manager for FSB: “I am delighted that our plan to equip local people with the skills that our county’s businesses really need has been approved by Government and is now published,” she said today.

“The LSIP is both a process and a plan to engage employers. It is essential that we really understand their critical skills gaps, frustrations and opportunities, and ensure that those needs line up with the best, most appropriate and accessible training available. This is a bold way forward that has our local people and businesses firmly in mind. We are putting in place changes that suit a workforce that spans a century; people who left school in the 1970s are still working now, and those leaving full time education now will still be working in the 2070s. Meeting the needs and expectations of different generations across Cornwall and Isles of Scilly is a challenge but it’s one that we at FSB, and local training providers, are up for taking on.

“A good skills base in any area links to business productivity and the health and happiness of individual workers, so being able to play any part in improving those important issues is a genuine pleasure. Now the plan is out, I look forward to working with all of our local colleges, universities, councils, skills bodies, trade associations, private training companies and sector leads to bring it to life."

Following approval and publication of the LSIP, the Federation of Small Businesses can now continue to work with local stakeholders – as well as monitor and report vital progress – over the next two years. 

The full LSIP report is available for download now at:

This is a bold way forward that has our local people and businesses firmly in mind. We are putting in place changes that suit a workforce that spans a century.

- Ann Vandermeulen, Development Manager for FSB
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