Skills accelerator pilot evaluation

Research report

L&W, in partnership with IFF Research, evaluated the Skills Accelerator pilot on behalf of the Department of Education (DfE). The project evaluated the pilot phase of employer-led Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPS) and the Strategic Development Fund (SDF) which provided capital and programme funding to collaborations of Further Education Providers. Both initiatives are key to the government’s reshaping of the skills systems as outlined in the 2021 Skills for Jobs Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth White Paper.

The main evaluation research report includes findings from eight case studies and 112 interviews with employer representative bodies, lead providers and wider partners across 18 pilot areas. This is accompanied by a follow-up report that reflects on the progress made once pilot funding ended.

Main findings from the evaluation included:

  • There is emerging evidence that technical education and training provision is being aligned with local labour market needs in SDF areas, and that LSIPs can play a future role in aligning provision with employer needs.
  • Existing relationships were critical to the early stages of pilot development and DfE should consider how best to support the development of new partnerships and the involvement of new partners in the skills landscape.
  • The SDF funding model encouraged active collaboration between training providers, which represented a new way of working for many.
  • Pilot activity resulted in increased levels of engagement from employers with the FE sector, which is an important first step in designing provision that aligns with employer needs.