Skills East Sussex Minutes 18 January 2024

Skills East Sussex Minutes 18 January 2024

Meeting details

Skills East Sussex Board Meeting

Thursday 18th January 2024 14:00 – 16:00

Online via Teams

Attendees and apologies



Organisation, Role


Diana Garnham

Skills East Sussex Board CHAIR


Andrew Pritchard

Assistant Principal – Business Engagement, Bexhill College


Bruce Campbell

Partnership Team, DWP


Caroline McKiddie

Strategic Lead – Participation and Skills, ESCC


Claire Witz

Skills Project Director, Sussex Chamber of Commerce


Cllr Bob Standley

Lead Member for Education & Inclusion, Special Educational Needs and Disability, ESCC


Donna Harfield

Assistant Principal, East Sussex College Group (part)


Dan Karlsson

Head of Business Services, Plumpton College


Gary Pike

Service Leader for East Sussex, DWP


Geraldine Turton

Apprenticeship Manager, University of Brighton


Ian Noble

Secretary, Uckfield Chamber of Commerce


Julie Barker

Independent Consultant, Chair Visitor Economy Task Group


Jude Day

Employability Programme Manager, SCDA


James Harris

Assistant Director- Economy, ESCC


Kim Byford

Talent Accelerator Programme, Co-Chair Creative, Cultural, Digital & Media Task Group


Kathy Martyn

SSHS Apprenticeships, Technical Education & Flexible Learning Lead, University of Brighton


Sarah Mills



Sally Staples

Cultural Strategy Manager, ESCC and Co-Chair Creative & Digital Media Task Group (part)


Victoria Conheady

Deputy Chief Executive, Hastings Borough Council



Nicholas Backstrom





Becky Shaw

Chief Executive, ESCC


Christina Ewbank

Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce


David Walker

Associate Pro Vice Chancellor Education and Student Experience, University of Brighton


Karen Hucker

Bexhill College


Martin Ellis

Recruitment South East


Pauline Smith

Chief Executive, CXK


Rebecca Conroy

Principal, East Sussex College Group


Vanessa Potter

Chief Executive, Sussex Council of Training Providers





Caroline Bragg

Employability and Skills Strategy Manager, ESCC


Holly Aquilina

Employability and Skills Strategy Manager, ESCC


Hannah Brookshaw

Partnerships and Projects Manager, ESCC

Actions arising from this meeting

Actions from this meeting, 18th January 2024  





1. CB to look into potential philanthropic funding options for Transform.


Next meeting

2. KM to follow up on whether T level placement requirements need to be added to ICB mapping.



3. Review data, identify T levels that will be delivered from Sept 24, identify potential gaps, bring conclusions and recommendations to SES

Colleges with CB and HA


4. Discussion item to be taken to the Task Groups to understand how net zero skills/AI/automation will impact on their sector, particularly entry level/part-time roles.


Next round of Task Group meetings

5. Link to the Local Transport Plan consultation to be shared


Consultation closes 25 February

1. Welcome, Introductions and Apologies

  1. DG welcomed all to the meeting and minutes of previous meeting were approved.

2. SES Operations

  • HB shared a presentation summarising the Board members update report. Presentation attached with the minutes.


  • CllrSt asked where we are looking for funding for Transform continuation. CB responded that currently looking at a small amount of council reserves, with a longer-term plan to identify funding through Shared Prosperity Fund or future LSIF, researching all possible sources. CllrSt stated that council funding is very tight. DG asked if there are any philanthropic funding options, example of The Prince’s Trust helping people in Health & Social Care. CB to look into this.


Action 1: CB to explore potential philanthropic funding options for Transform.


  • DG thanked everybody for their contribution to the Growth Strategy workshops. 84 SES partners and stakeholders participated, which is phenomenal engagement; there will be an update to TES about the next steps of the Growth Strategy and this will be relayed to SES.


  • DG congratulated the FE colleges for being nominated for a number of awards, as detailed in the members update report and thanked Bexhill College for sharing their sector specific business newsletters.

3. Defunding taught vocational qualifications from the FE curriculum – analysis and findings

3.1 CB shared a presentation on the post-16 vocational qualifications reforms. Presentation attached with the minutes.


Discussion – what are your perspectives?


3.2 KM stated that in health and social care, there is a requirement and demand for placements from T levels through to L6 professional courses, with extensive regulatory body demands for those at L5 and L6. ICB is mapping all placement availability and capacity for learners/students, to avoid competing courses/FE/HEI providers. Can we map T level placement requirements within this mix? Do they need to be added? KM to follow up.


Action 2: KM to follow up on whether T level placement requirements need to be added to ICB mapping.


3.3 DG asked what percentage of the total offer are the existing taught vocational courses. CB responded that we don’t have the percentage to hand but noted that some have been defunded due to low enrolment/take-up so the focus is on those vocational courses that have proved popular.


3.4 DG suggested that we could get some employer/student feedback from those who have experienced T levels. Young people often want a basket of qualifications to give them a broad step forward.


3.5 KB stated that the creative sector has real concerns around T levels, particularly because of the reduction of creative taught subjects in schools. Numbers of creative course take up in post-16 look like they are falling, not because students aren’t interested but because they haven’t experienced creative learning provision before this point. The House of Lords Committee paper has in-depth detail about this. Work placements will be almost impossible to facilitate for many due to the micro nature of the creative sector so T levels won’t work in East Sussex.


3.6 DG stated that construction will also have an issue with smaller businesses not being able to offer the full range/duration of work experience. TRAC type approaches may be required for T levels. Should this be a lobbying point?


3.7 DK responded that Plumpton doesn’t have full list of defunded qualifications. They will be starting to run Animal care and Agriculture T level courses with conservative numbers as IFATE have not yet released the full course content yet. Main concerns re BTEC defunding, are that they infill a lot of study programmes with 19+ learners to ensure financial viability of courses so are able to offer a good range; this won’t be possible for T levels which are for 16-18 year olds so there could be a significant reduction in range of courses offered. Motor vehicle courses are always highly demanded, but the T Level is L3, yet learners often enter learning at L1 on a vocational taught course and progress into L3. This pathway is likely to disappear.  There is considerable concern around some of the niche courses, for example, Blacksmithing has been shoe-horned as a module in the Engineering T level, most learners for this currently are 19+, and only want to study blacksmithing so would not want to enrol on a wider course. Forestry is also a concern as an apprenticeship is not always a viable option due to a lack of placements so often taught courses are better for this industry pathway.


3.8 DG asked about challenges re T level work experience. There is an incompatibly between generic nature of a T level and the specialist work experience skill. DK confirmed this is a concern.


3.9 CB thanked everyone for their input. She stated that she will work with HA to produce the data for the next meeting and with the training providers to identify any areas of potential gaps and will bring to SES a suggestion for lobbying. T


Action 3: Review data, identify T levels that will be delivered from Sept 24, identify potential gaps, bring conclusions and recommendations to SES

4. Future Skills Research

4.1 HA shared a presentation on the Future skills research in East Sussex. Presentation attached with the minutes. This compared the results of the Future Skills research commissioned by ESCC with current intelligence from global thought leaders, highlighting mismatches and alignments to support future planning and learning. The presentation looked at impact of AI and net zero on new and existing jobs. Future recruitment is predicted to be a ‘skills first’ approach employing people based on skills first, vocational qualifications second.


Discussion on the presentation:


4.2 DH stated that not surprised there’s a mismatch with the results from international and local research – as skills is not the top priority of businesses. HA agreed that business leaders are focused on their day to day business operations, and skills is not their key focus, but stressed that as a Skills Board, SES needs to look ahead and be able to help inform and steer businesses, so that they are prepared for the decade ahead. DH noted that there are a number of innovations happening through the LSIP and the DESNZ funding (retrofit skills project) that will help us to tackle some of the emerging needs and that the colleges are working as a consortium through the Strategic Development Fund to focus on areas of future skills provision.


4.3 NB shared that East Sussex College Group have 2 courses: AI Governance (how to use AI within businesses), AI prompt engineering (how to use AI as a co-pilot alongside your job role), that will be critical to upskill both managers and workers. HA suggested that modular and short courses tailored to different sectors on how to use AI in the workplace could be very valuable.


4.4 KM recognised that there’s a gap where the health and social care sector is moving towards more virtual delivery of care. Need young people to be competent and confident with AI and digital working, which is not currently feeding through qualifications and so is often a surprise when they enter the workplace.


4.5 DH commented that this also correlates with teacher competence and confidence around AI and digital working, as well as learners. CPD and support is being delivered to support teachers with AI. CB noted that teachers are using GPTchat to prepare lesson plans in some areas.


4.6 HA commented on WEF research that suggests the replacement of some administrative functions within five years due to AI, and flagged the impact this may have on entry level jobs for young people, on women in part-time roles, as well as on SEN and NEET entry level jobs. She noted that this is an equalities issue, and is something that each task group could be asked to consider Although potentially having negative implications, she suggested there may be scope to fill future vacancies and future growth in visitor and health and social care sectors by transiting and upskilling people from administrative and entry level clerking roles to roles in these sectors.


4.7 DG noted that the charity sector is now offering training for admin/secretariat support in AI minute taking.


4.8 VC asked where the young people’s voice is feeding into the research, including their expectations. CMcK stated that this was a business survey, but added that there has been an increase in early leavers (from school), who have moved straight into work, rather than continuing into learning (700 currently this year in employment). Many of these young people are entering work without training and would be prime apprentices, but the apprenticeship pathways are not there in the quantities that are needed.


Action 4: Discussion item to be taken to the Task Groups to understand how AI/automation will impact on their sector, particularly entry level/part-time roles and to identify any learning needs or opportunities.

5. Retrofit Skills Strategy

5.1 HA and NB presented on Retrofit Skills Strategy update. Presentation attached with the minutes.


5.2. There was no discussion but NB asked that questions were directed to HA in the first instance who will send queries to delivery partners.


5.3 DG asked that a further update is provided at the next SES meeting.

6. LSIP & DWP questions

6.1 CW provided an update on LSIP in the SES members update report. A number of sector deep dives have been completed, including Digital sector as a key sector, importance of AI recognised. Includes recommendations/suggestion for actions organisations could deliver to address challenges/issues in those sectors. Regarding young people and employability, have just undertaken a learner voice project, hoping to publish this at end of this month.


6.2 BC provided an update on DWP in the SES members update report. BC mentioned that from beginning of February, DWP are starting the managed migration of people from Tax Credit to Universal Credit. This will increase the number of job seekers, potentially more people in competition for jobs. GP was introduced as the new DWP Service Lead for East Sussex.

7. Forward Plan & AOB

7.1 Forward Plan – The following items were suggested:


  • Integrated Care Board – NHS skills and employment, health and wellbeing - anchor institution role – Dee Humphries
  • DWP migration from Tax Credit to Universal Credit
  • Vocational qualifications – update on the data & lobbying
  • Future skills discussion points – AI, impact on entry level/gender/SEN, talent management, HR management, skills first agenda (assess whether it would help to have some specialist input)
  • Retrofit Skills update on delivery of project and advise if secured further funding



The Local Transport Plan is currently out for consultation, please respond with thoughts on how it will help or hinder people accessing work, learning and skills. Consultation closes on 25 February.


Action 5: All to look at the Local Transport Plan consultation. Link to be sent with minutes.



Next meeting: 18th April 2024, 14.00 - 16.00 (venue tbc)