To make devolution work there has got to be a culture shift away from London says Heseltine
Lord Heseltine was in combative mood when he came to Birmingham to launch the Skills Hub, which will provide a vital link between business and academia. The Hub comprises colleges of further education and Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) to provide a vital link between business and academia.
And the former Deputy Prime Minister said: “In London they do not think that you are capable of running things. You are up against fundamental problems because they believe you are not up to it.
“If we are going to make devolution work there has got to be a culture shift away from London to the skills of the regions. And the Scotland result has made devolution absolutely unstoppable.”
He praised initiatives like the Skills Hub, which, he said, demonstrated that the colleges and business could work together and proved that they were capable of governing themselves.
He said: “We are 20 per cent less productive as an economy than Germany and the US and we are 21st in the league of education standards.
“We know there is a skills problem in Birmingham and we have to accept that it is one of the worst regions for unemployment.
“But we know there are world-beating companies in Birmingham. But you have to look down to where the standards are just not good enough.
And he looked to the Chamber to help drive change, adding: “I have argued that we must enhance the Chamber network.
“Chambers in this country do not begin to have the same role in raising standards, as they do in many other parts of Europe, where Chambers are central to the management of the economy.”
He added that Chambers should be strengthened in the UK to represent businesses better, like Germany.
Other speakers were Norman Cave, principal of Bournville College of Further Education who chairs the FE/Chamber consortium responsible for the development of the Hub, and Tim Pile, president of Birmingham Chamber. The launch event at the Hyatt was also attended by leading figures from the world of business, academia, politics and local government.
The other colleges in the consortium are Birmingham Metropolitan College, Burton and South Derbyshire College, Heart of Worcestershire College, Solihull College, South and City College Birmingham, South Staffordshire College, Kidderminster College and University College Birmingham.
Mr Cave said: “We’re delighted to be working with partner colleges and the Chamber in putting together this important service. We now look forward to making it work for both the long- and short-term benefit of jobs growth in our city region.
“The collaboration agreement meets the need of business and the wider local economy. It will continue to develop a shared response to the needs of employers and provide a single map of existing vocational skills opportunities.”
GBCC has appointed a manager to run the Hub, which comes into operation in October.
Russell Jeans, GBCC director of membership and business services, said: “The Hub is our joint response to support employers in their search for skills development, courses and programmes.
“An employer will be able to quickly access the programmes available for an employee and select the most suitable in terms of skill requirements and geography.”
To learn more about the Skills Hub go to: www.theskills-hub.co.uk
Pictured are Norman Cave, principal of Bournville College, Lord Michael Heseltine and Tim Pile, president of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.
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Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce is one of the UK’s oldest and largest Chambers. It has nearly 3,000 member companies that employ over 200,000 plus affiliate organisations representing 15,000 people. It offers extensive services to industry and commerce, having served the interests of business for three centuries, promoting trade locally, nationally and internationally.
Members of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce: Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, Burton & District Chamber, Chase Chamber, Lichfield & Tamworth Chamber, Solihull Chamber, The Institute of Asian Businesses, Future Faces and the British American Business Council.