Nick Woodrow is a Regional Account Manager here at AAT. Nick talks us through Local Enterprise Partnerships and how AAT is connecting to LEPs around the country so that more enterprises and organisations are aware of the AAT offering.
LEPs are locally owned partnerships between local authorities and private businesses set up in 2011 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. There are thirty nine LEPs in England and each are being shape
LEPs are responsible for forming and shaping their own skills agendas and to aid this, they have responsibility to distribute European Social Funding (ESF) according to the needs of the local area.
They provide the vision, knowledge and strategic leadership needed to drive sustainable private sector growth and job creation in their area. They play a central role in determining local economic priorities and understand that it’s important to drive economic growth from a grass roots level.
When I was appointed to my current job role in July 2013, I was eager that we start conversations with LEPs. We spent time researching all thirty nine LEPs. LEPs have different priority areas or focus areas in which they invest in certain industries that have economic growth potential. Financial and business services, including accountancy is one such area but luckily we’ve developed relationships with twenty eight of the thirty nine LEP’s nationwide. They can all understand the benefit of having strong financial management within every business model, big and small.
We’ve been able to forge good relationships with LEPs by keeping them abreast of AAT qualifications, products and services; we’ve done presentations to a range of employees at LEPs and this has benefitted us as we are able to share information and insight. At the Liverpool City Region LEP they are letting local businesses know about AAT on our behalf. They provide information on our courses through local AAT approved FE centres and training providers. We’ve also been able to learn more about changes to funding requirements. As we all know the funding framework for skills development changes frequently so it’s good to understand how funding is allocated and affects local business. We are able to call on key contacts within the LEPs to understand changes to emerging skills requirements and the funding available to support such requirements.
We have been working with the Greater Manchester LEP on their apprenticeship programme pilot in which our qualifications will fit in the framework for Employer Ownership of Skills (EOS) initiative. The EOS was set up by UKCIS and aims to increase employment opportunities be creating more jobs, apprenticeships and they have direct access to funding.
Our finance qualifications will be delivered by an AAT approved training provider and a programme for the training will be designed by an employer skills group – in this case a firm on accountants. It will work in a way that local businesses will release staff into the training and at the end of the training programme the students will have gained an AAT qualification to equip them with finance skills they can use on the job. It’s an exciting collaboration that we will work well to suit needs of individual businesses.
AAT will continue to work alongside LEPs throughout the country. Small businesses make up 99.9 per cent of all private sector businesses within the UK so we’re keen to keep developing local relationships.
AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.