Skip to main content Skip to footer

Local Skills Improvement Plan updates

Norfolk and Suffolk Chambers of Commerce are working with the Department for Education (DfE) to put employers at the heart of the skills agenda by preparing, developing and reviewing the Norfolk and Suffolk Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP). To do this the chambers has brought together employers and training providers to discuss local skills issues and to work together to identify local skills solutions.

Latest LSIP updates


The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) recently announced a £7.4 million pilot scheme to subsidise the cost of AI skills training for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Professional Business Services (PBS) sector. £6.4 million of grant funding is available. 

Through this pilot programme, eligible business can apply for funding for up to 50% of the cost of AI skills training. This refers to training which supports employees to develop their technical skills and/or understanding of AI to be able to develop, deploy, or use AI in their role.

The flexible AI upskilling fund pilot aims to increase AI adoption and productivity by incentivising greater employer-led investment in skills and training. Evidence shows that a lack of AI skills in businesses is hindering AI adoption, in part due to low investment in AI upskilling in UK businesses, particularly in smaller companies.

Funding will be allocated through a competitive application exercise running until 31 May 2024. Depending on demand, a second competitive application exercise may be run later in the year. 

Funding is for the procurement of AI skills training only, and not for the cost of: 

  • Purchasing AI technologies
  • Business advice and consulting
  • Recruitment activity
  • Salaries, including work placement or internship salaries
  • Capital expenditure

For full eligibility criteria and information of how to submit an expression of interest click here.

Chambers East is supporting a call for Government action to level up skills in the East of England.

Chambers East worked with the East of England All Party Parliamentary Group, local authorities, FE colleges, universities and training providers to prepare a report that identifies barriers to improving skills in our region.

Some of the barriers identified include the loss of some of the apprenticeship training levy funds from the region; the Maths and English element of apprenticeship assessment leading to low completions; widespread teacher shortages and insufficient and inflexible funding.

Report recommendations include the reform of apprenticeship provision and the levy to allow greater flexibility; further devolution of all post 16 skills funding and incentivising companies to volunteer their staff to provide teaching support on apprenticeship courses in key sectors.

Charlotte Horobin, Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce said ‘There is a lot of inflexibility in the way skills funding can be used and unfortunately this means that funding is not always available to meet the rapidly changing skills needs of employers.’

Denise Rossiter, Chief Executive of Essex Chambers of Commerce commented ‘A large number of nationally significant infrastructure projects are being planned for the East of England, including the Lower Thames Crossing and Sizewell C. These projects will increase the demand for skilled workforces. However, there is insufficient regional funding available to provide the training that is needed’.

Nova Fairbank, Chief Executive of Norfolk Chambers of Commerce said ‘Employers across the region are ready to release staff to support skills training, but it’s a big commitment and more needs to be done to help employers manage the impact of releasing key staff on a regular basis.’

John Dugmore, Chief Executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce commented ‘This report shows there are common skills issues across the East of England. By working together as Chambers East and in partnership with others, the region’s chambers of commerce can amplify the voice of East of England businesses in calling for action to address the issues that have been identified.

To read the report Towards a Strategic Framework for Levelling Up Skills’ click here

To read the letter from the East of England All Party Parliamentary Group to the Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Further Education click here

Funded by the UK government, the Local Skills Improvement Fund, and the Department for Education, ePASS+ is a digital resource that has been created to give crucial soft skills to employees of companies.

The ePASS+ programme offers a comprehensive toolkit tailored to empower the workforce and gives employees insights into their personalities, learning styles, and motivations, creating a more profound understanding that serves as the foundation for transformative development. Read more here

Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) across England “are working and beginning to make positive differences for local employers”, according to a new report commissioned by the British Chambers of Commerce. Based on evidence from 21 of the 32 chamber led LSIPs, the evaluation report concludes that the process is changing attitudes and encouraging more employers to collaborate and engage positively with the skills system.

A ‘stable and coherent’ skills strategy is needed to prepare young people for the world of work, according to first ever British Chambers of Commerce Youth Skills Manifesto. The report highlights the key skills employers look for in young people and how individuals will need to embrace new learning throughout their careers as the workplace becomes more technical, automated and low carbon focused. It examines the important role of technical education, notably T-Levels, Higher Technical Qualifications and Apprenticeships across England.

Share your views on skills in your sector and in your part of Suffolk. Join the Norfolk and Suffolk LSIP Linkedin Group

The University of Suffolk online Job Board:

  • Helps employers recruit graduates to graduate level full-time or part-time,  permanent or fixed term employment
  • Connects students with employers recruiting for internships, work placements, summer placements, part-time roles, and casual/temporary employment
  • Enables charities and voluntary organisations to advertise paid and voluntary roles
  • Promotes opportunities offered by University of Suffolk internal departments to students and graduates.  (All University of Suffolk departments are encouraged to advertise vacancies suitable for students with the service)
  • Enables Students to connect with Organisations directly.

East Coast College has united with educational establishments from Norfolk and Suffolk to look at ways of closing skills gaps in digital industries across the region.

A key highlight of the project saw the launch of a Digital Futures Conference held at The Hold in Ipswich. This occasion saw education, skills and business experts hear top talks from leading practitioners in education and the digital industries. Read more here

Tom Lloyd - Executive Director - Skills, Innovation and Strategic Development at Eastern Education Group said: "This state-of-the-art facility will enable us to become one of the UK's leading lights when it comes to Extended Reality education. In addition to this, we are keen to collaborate with industry as much as possible. We have already developed strong links with the business community both locally, nationally and internationally to meet emerging skill needs. These organisations include Wincanton PLC, EDF and the NHS. The XR Lab is keen to collaborate, support and partner with other businesses who can benefit greatly from the technology that the XR lab provides and enhance education for the benefit of current and future learners." Read more here

Suffolk and Norfolk education providers prepare to transform skills training in the region thanks to £4.75m cash boost

£4.75m Government funding has been confirmed for a major skills project across Norfolk and Suffolk funded by the Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF) from the Department for Education.

Led by Suffolk New College, the £4,75m cash boost will see the College team up with educational and industry partners to deliver successful outcomes on a number of projects. City College Norwich, the College of West Anglia, East Coast College and West Suffolk College, together with East Norfolk Sixth Form College and the University of Suffolk are all collaborating with Suffolk New College on the project, aiming to transform training opportunities across the region.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Chambers of Commerce teams are key stakeholders, ensuring the objectives of the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) for Norfolk and Suffolk are met, with the local workforce getting the right skills and training to help businesses thrive.

Local independent training providers will also have the opportunity to get involved in delivering a joint training programme across the region.

Running until March 2025, the funding will see investment in equipment, events, teaching and training, enrichment activities for students, employer engagement and new facilities. Thousands of students and hundreds of businesses will benefit from the investment.

Green skills and digital skills are key themes of the project, which will also include a ‘Digital Futures Conference’ on 13th March 2024 at The Hold in Ipswich with all partners taking part.

Alan Pease is the CEO and Principal of Suffolk New College. He said: “This is tremendous news. This is all about us working together with other educational providers to collectively improve our skills provision and make it even more relevant to the needs of the economy and local businesses.

“We may be named as the leader of the project but for us it’s all about collaboration and working together with our partners and other providers.

“Our commitment to bring education and industry closer together for the long-term benefit of our communities can only be enhanced by this news.”

John Dugmore, chief executive of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce: He said: “This is good news for Suffolk and Norfolk: for our businesses, our current and future workforce and, therefore, for the sustainable prosperity of our region. m/f

“There is a clear line of sight operating with this announcement: the business-led Local Skills Improvement Plan, jointly run by Suffolk and Norfolk Chambers, outlined the skills priority needs of our SMEs – digital, soft or employability skills and those relating to the energy and agri-food sectors. The LSIF being delivered by and through Suffolk New College will now help to deliver the skills development changes required to address them.

“Suffolk Chamber, its members and the county’s wider business community stand ready to work with East Coast College, West Suffolk College as well as Suffolk New College to ensure that Suffolk has the right skills at the right time to deliver the right kind of economy.”

Nova Fairbank, Chief Executive of Norfolk Chambers of Commerce: She said: “Norfolk Chambers of Commerce, together with Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, lead on the Norfolk & Suffolk LSIP. We are delighted that our region has been successful in securing £4.75m of funding to enable greater collaborations of FE colleges and training providers to meet the employer skills needs outlined in our Local Skills Improvement Plan, published in August this year.

“Suffolk New College has delivered a winning bid for the LSIF to deliver investment in new facilities and equipment; the development and delivery of new courses and curriculum; and the creation of a more sustainable approach to addressing local skill needs across Norfolk and Suffolk.

“We look forward to the ongoing collaboration with all the colleges and providers and to continuing our mutual journey to bring business and education closer together.”

Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan said: “This investment is about boosting local industries, building people’s skills and ultimately futureproofing our economy and the career prospects of the next generation.

“Our local skills projects will bring together regional organisations, businesses and education providers to respond to the specific needs of employers, building an increasingly skilled workforce and growing local economies.

“Whether it is green skills, construction, engineering or digital, thousands more people can now gain the skills they need to secure good jobs closer to home. These are long-term plans that will ensure every area can have a brighter future.”

The Norfolk & Suffolk LSIP Report has now been approved by the DfE. The skills solutions outlined in the report are reflective of employer needs through a range of projects which will encourage greater collaboration with training providers.   We will now start to put the plan into action and continue to engage with businesses and offer support and guidance on the current skills provision available. We welcome any new initiatives/provision that are seen to support the future skills support for business growth.

Read the Local Skills Improvement Plan

Approved Norfolk and Suffolk LSIP

Norfolk and Suffolk LSIP – Appendix B

The LSIP Board provides direction, oversight, and review of the development of an effective LSIP for Norfolk and Suffolk. Find out who are the board members here

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.
Find out more here