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 today.

The Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) is a Department for Education (DfE) project, delivered in Cornwall by the local branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB.

The key theme running through the new plan is ongoing consultation with employers of all sizes and sectors to understand what skills and attributes local companies need from their staff to meet growing productivity, tech, environmental and economic issues.

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 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.

In particular, the report 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.

FSB development manager, Ann Vandermeulen, is the local lead for the LSIP and author of the report. She said: 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.”

To download the full LSIP report, click here.