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Yorkshire Post LEP Column – Mike Parker, vice-chair Humber LEP and chair, Humber LEP Employment and Skills Board

When people ask about the Humber LEP Employment and Skills Board, I describe it as the “Business Voice driving the Humber skills agenda”. Through partnership with local authorities, funding agencies, key government departments and education and training providers, our purpose is to achieve a skills system that is better aligned with the current and future needs of the local economy.

The Humber is the UK’s Energy Estuary, a powerhouse for the emerging renewable sector as well as traditional energy production, yet many of our established and growing sectors can struggle to recruit skilled entrants and face an ageing workforce.

The LEP’s role is to improve interaction between the commercial and academic worlds, local and national government. Recognising that business is in the driving seat, we can directly influence provision which better meets local economic needs, fostering an inclusive stakeholders’ approach.

To achieve a skilled and productive workforce we must raise employers’ commitment to skills at all levels: from offering student work experience, to investing in staff re-training.

Understanding impact on the “bottom line” is essential and we have developed a range of skills projects that will deliver our goals. For example, in November 2014 we set up the Humber Apprenticeship Support Service offering impartial guidance to SMEs, which has supported 370 businesses resulting in 148 apprenticeships to date. This is a really good example of what we find in almost every area of meeting the skills needs of local employers.

Employers of all types consistently tell us that recruitment of the right skills is the most important challenge they face. Yet the language used and the sheer complexity of the offering by training providers is often a real ‘turn off’ to employers.

Providing an impartial service to employers about apprenticeships, particularly to those SMEs which may not have the specialist resources to link with the multiple provider options, is one example of the role the Humber LEP sees itself providing to our region.

On the same theme, 354 companies have signed up to the Humber Skills Pledge, a single access point for employers interested in engaging with education and skills providers offering a matching service. The Pledge, supported by Humber partners, was in the spotlight earlier this year when it was recognised by the National Institute of Adult and Continuing Education, achieving the coveted President’s Award.

Crucial to our challenge is getting the right people on the right training pathway, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related subjects that will maximise economic opportunities. Through City Deal investment, the LEP enabled 565 more apprentices and an additional 2,223 STEM student places.

Part of this solution is our drive to improve the quality, accessibility and dissemination of labour market information and careers education, information and guidance. The Humber ‘Bridging the Gap’ careers portal, developed in partnership by the four local authorities includes videos focussing on STEM graduates and their local career achievements.

Recognising careers advice can be inconsistent, we have developed the Humber ‘Gold Standard’ quality mark for excellence, working with employers, partners and national quality organisations. These projects are designed to equip local people to make informed career choices.

Our current agenda is to extend this work to tackle the recruitment, retention and retraining of older workers who can provide experience, skills and flexibility to meet employer needs and will be holding a 50+ symposium on November 20 in Willerby.

Another first for the Humber is the development of the LEP Employability Passport validation. The LEP framework uses the CBI’s seven employability skills to test the suitability of existing passports to deliver economic benefit. The initial pilot for the passport has been very well received by employers and recruits alike and is set to be rolled out Humber-wide from 2016.

Above is a snapshot of the LEP’s Employment and Skills Board’s work. It is an exciting, wide ranging and strategic approach to securing the skilled workforce needed to underpin our economy.

Furthermore, it’s a long term, business-led plan developed locally. Reaching our goals will mean the proportion of our working age population with no/lower level qualifications decreases significantly. We’ll experience above average growth in higher level skills and more people employed in the region’s key sectors to drive growth.

Yorkshire Post article 

The ways to follow us:

  • The Humber LEP is working to achieve a skilled and productive workforce. For more information go to
  • Skills Pledge information can be accessed at
  • A HASS microsite will be available from December 2016
  • Sign up for the Humber LEP newsletter at
  • Skills Pledge information can be accessed at
  • A HASS microsite will be available from December 2016
  • Sign up for the Humber LEP newsletter at
  • Follow Humber LEP on Twitter at @HumberLEP
  • Follow Skills Pledge on Twitter at @HumberSkills

Mike Parker OBE
Mike Parker OBE

Mike has more than 30 years experience as a senior manager in industry, principally in seafood and food processing. A business graduate from the University of Bath, with his expertise in general management has included chair and managing director positions in a number of companies, including some of the largest in their sectors in Europe. This includes being the former deputy CEO of the Findus Group with expertise in mergers & acquisitions, strategic planning, and public affairs. In addition to his work as director of Lodestone a communications company, Mike currently has interests in publishing, is a Non Executive Director of Marine Harvest ASA, the world’s largest salmon farming company, and Chair of Governors at the Grimsby Institute further education college. Additional Humber LEP role: Chair of the Employment and Skills Board