A new strategy to boost skills for residents in Sandwell and support local businesses and the economy to grow has been approved by councillors.
Sandwell’s Cabinet has unveiled the Sandwell Skills Strategy 2020-2023 – an ambitious and wide-reaching new plan described as “the first of its kind” for the borough.
The strategy sets out Sandwell’s skills challenges and key priorities and is closely aligned to the West Midlands Combined Authority Regional Skills Plan.
The three-year Sandwell Skills Strategy seeks to boost skill levels, tackle issues of poverty driven by low wage levels and address skills shortages faced by employers.
The main aims are to:
The strategy also responds to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen unemployment rates increase and created more challenges for people who are digitally excluded.
Councillor Rajbir Singh, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for employment and skills, said:
“I am delighted to announce the Sandwell Skills Strategy, which is the first of its kind for the borough.
“This new strategy is both ambitious and challenging as our residents deserve a skills environment where they can benefit from the local investment in their area.
“A development of skills is a vital part of all aspects of life and we recognise that those who have a good level of skills are generally more likely to find sustainable employment and to earn higher wages.
“Skills development also has a positive impact on physical and mental health. And we all know that development of skills is important to business development and growth in any region.”
Councillor Singh added:
“We want Sandwell businesses to thrive, to increase their productivity and to be able to offer increased wages.
“It is essential that our workforce can support our businesses to compete in the local economy. We are committed to looking at skills needs for the future and we are driving skills development in areas such as environment and digital.
“We recognise that these skills will be key to a much wider range of employment opportunities in the future.
“We have consulted widely to ensure we are representing our local communities and businesses.
“Engagement has taken place with residents, schools, businesses, voluntary organisations, educational establishments and other key stakeholders to contribute to the development of this strategy and to explore the best routes and methods to tackle borough-wide skills issues.
“This strategy also aims to support the Inclusive Economy Deal and Community Wealth Building agenda so that Sandwell residents can benefit from our local regeneration opportunities.
“The collaborative approach of partners working together for the benefit of Sandwell residents will ensure the best chances of success and I believe this total commitment and alignment of resources is essential to enable Sandwell residents to achieve their full potential.”
Deputy council leader Councillor Maria Crompton added:
“I welcome this new Skills Strategy. We want everyone in Sandwell to be able to reach their full potential by having the skills, confidence and ambition to succeed.
“Anything we can do to upskill our workforce and bring aspiration to young people across the borough is wonderful.”