Chamber receives government approval to address region’s skills gaps


The North East Chamber of Commerce has received approval from the Secretary of State for stage one of its Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs).

The Chamber has been working with over 3,500 businesses in North of Tyne and Tees Valley to place employers at the heart of the skills system to take the region’s economy forward and boost opportunities for future generations.

By consulting with and articulating the skills needs of employers, the Chamber is creating a skills and training blueprint that meets the needs of businesses as well as the wider community.

Rachel Anderson, Assistant Director of Policy at the Chamber, said: “LSIPs provide us with the opportunity to shape the future of the region’s skills and talent pipeline, so it’s excellent to have received approval from the Secretary of State for our plans.

“Over 3,500 businesses, both members and non-members, took part in a comprehensive assessment of skills requirements to ensure the correct provision is in place to meet those needs and to ensure we avoid skills gaps in the future.

“We look forward to working in partnership with our colleges, the combined authorities, and other regional stakeholders to deliver real change as we move forward to phase two of the plans and the implementation of our findings.”

Alongside the specific skills required to build new green economy, and ease the recruitment crisis in the health sector, businesses involved in the LSIPs overwhelmingly identified communication skills as a key priority, and digital skills were raised across the board.

Once approved, providers, such as colleges and private training providers, as well as funding bodies will be required to take account of the LSIPs when commissioning future courses and will be assessed by Ofsted on their adherence.

The Chamber carried out various workshops, roundtables and events to provide businesses with the opportunity to speak up and skill up during the LSIPs consultation process. The project is supported by the Department for Education.

North of Tyne LSIP Reports

North of Tyne Local Skills Improvement Plan 2023

North of Tyne Local Skills Improvement Plan 2023 – Annexe A

North of Tyne Local Skills Improvement Plan 2023 – Annexe B

North of Tyne Local Skills Improvement Plan 2023 – Bibliography

Tees Valley LSIP Reports

Tees Valley Local Skills Improvement Plan 2023

Tees Valley Local Skills Improvement Plan 2023 – Annexe A

Tees Valley Local Skills Improvement Plan 2023 – Annexe B

Tees Valley Local Skills Improvement Plan 2023 – Bibliography

LSIP Phase 2 Communication Skills Project – Tender Opportunity

Following the successful acceptance of the North of Tyne and Tees Valley LSIPs by the Secretary of State in July 2023, marking the completion of phase 1, we now move into phase 2 of the project. This phase allows us to delve deeper into the issues highlighted during the initial LSIP research.


Communication Skills:

In both the North of Tyne and Tees Valley LSIPs, employers consistently emphasised the lack of communication skills among both the existing workforce and prospective employees. They noted a regression in verbal communication skills, particularly since the pandemic, with individuals often relying heavily on technology for communication or struggling to meet the demands of client-facing roles.

Employers identified a deficiency in communication skills and an underlying lack of confidence in candidates as significant barriers to filling vacancies. While technical competencies can often be taught, employers find it more challenging to instil self-confidence and business-oriented communication skills in candidates.

Although many educational courses include modules on employability and some aspects of communication skills, these skills do not seem to translate effectively into the workplace. Employers highlighted shortcomings in areas such as professional client communication, oracy, active listening, verbal telephone skills, and basic body language.

The communication skills issue cut across various company sizes and sectors, affecting over 95% of the employers interviewed. It was not restricted to any particular age group and was observed among both new hires and the existing workforce.

Deep Dive Project:

After consulting with College principals, employers, and other education specialists across the North of Tyne and Tees Valley LSIP areas, there is consensus on the need for a deep dive exercise to achieve the following objectives:

  • Determine which aspects of existing provision are effective and warrant further investment.
  • Identify why current provision is failing to transition effectively into the workplace and meet employers’ needs.
  • Recommend changes necessary to address the identified shortcomings.

Project Outcomes:

The project aims to produce a set of recommendations for educational institutions and commissioning bodies on how provision can be enhanced to better align with employers’ requirements.


Working collaboratively with the Chamber LSIP team and providers, external consultants will:

  • Analyse the LSIP phase 1 evidence base and conduct additional research with employers, providers, teachers, and students.
  • Review existing research to identify best practices.
  • Develop recommendations for improvement.


Submission of Expressions of Interest – 03/05/2024

Shortlisting and selection –  12/05/2024

Commencement of Fieldwork – Approximately 01/06/2024

Presentation of Interim Findings – 26/07/2024

Project Completion – 30/08/2024

Please submit expressions of interest in the first instance to [email protected] by close of business on the 3rd May 2024.