Skills East Sussex sector task groups

Membership of the skills sector task groups

The industry task groups are employer led. 

We are very keen to receive new members, especially employer. Please email Skills East Sussex to find out more about what we do and to join. 

Members of the skills sector task groups include:

  • local employers
  • county and local district and borough councillors
  • members of the Skills East Sussex team
  • colleges and universities 
  • independent training providers 

Priority sectors and objectives

The task groups address the skills, training and employment priorities in each of the following sectors: 

The task groups allow everyone to collaborate on the planning of future skills and employment strategies for East Sussex. This ensures that local needs for each sector are being prioritised.

Each group has objectives related to:

  • improving careers related learning and labour market information in schools
  • influencing the Further and Higher Education curriculum to meet the changing needs of business
  • ensuring young people are ready for the world of work
  • growing apprenticeships and higher-level learning
  • supporting their sector's professional development of skills for teachers and lecturers

The task groups are coordinated by the Skills East Sussex Secretariat. Most of the groups meet 4 times a year. Meetings are a mix of online and in-person. 

Construction is a significant industry in East Sussex. With many small businesses and sole traders, jobs are 46% above the national average for the working population.

The Construction Task Group meets to support the strategic priorities of Skills East Sussex concerning the industry.  Civil Engineering is also represented in this group.

The group includes  local employers such as:

  • GM Monk
  • Cheesmur Building Contractors Ltd
  • OHM Energy
  • Hawes Building Contractors

Other members include national construction employers, especially when they have building contracts in East Sussex, such as

  • Morgan Sindall
  • Jacobs
  • Wilmott Dixon
  • Volker Fitzpatrick

Organisations whose work include major building also sit on the group. These include:

  • East Sussex Highways
  • Gatwick Airpot
  • Optivo.

Education and training representatives include:

  • East Sussex College Group
  • Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)
  • University of Brighton
  • employment and skills departments of the local authorities.

The task group is chaired by Scott Monk of GM Monk Ltd, an electrical contractor company.

Careers Hub Case Study Scott Monk
Chair Scott Monk

Chair Scott Monk, Director of GM Monk Ltd

Chairing the Construction task group allows Scott to use his knowledge and expertise from the education, construction and careers sector. He directs the group towards some of the key objectives that East Sussex County Council have set in relation to employment, education and the construction industry. He chairs a very positive and engaged group of people which allows the Task Group to tackle some of the limiting factors in construction.

Task group update Winter 2023

The task group continues to build upon the foundations it has established.  

Priority tasks for 2023/24 are

  • Supporting colleges and training providers to consider opportunities to attract more tutors for the construction and retrofit courses;
  • Supporting employers to promote careers and recruitment into the sector and progression opportunities, including influence and support the existing range of events to improve uptake of pathways into construction;
  • Developing a partnership retrofit strategy to deliver actions and initiatives via funding secured through DESNZ and Public Health;
  • Supporting employers to recruit and train staff through the Transform programme, the CITB Into Work Grant and initiatives to support placements/jobs in the sector.

Construction Task Group meetings

Please find below the minutes of recent task group meetings.

The next meeting of the group is on 16 May 2024.

Contact Skills East Sussex  if you are a sector employer, training or education provider and want details. Other than your time, and occasional travel, there are no costs to joining Skills East Sussex meetings.  

If you wish to see minutes of a meeting not listed, please email Skills East Sussex and we will do our best to help.

Task group achievements to date

  • Development of a Tutor Encounters event for the construction and engineering/ advanced manufacturing sectors delivered in July 2023, enabling schools careers leads, teachers and college tutors to better understand the future needs of the sector and network with businesses through workshops, practical demonstrations and learning sessions.
  • Development of CNC Engineering course, as well as CNC modules in apprenticeship provision at East Sussex College Group
  • Submission of funding bid for pilot Engineering after school clubs in Hastings
  • Job role videos created showcasing construction roles on the East Sussex Careers Hub website
  • Endorsement of a University of Brighton bid. The bid secured £100K for development of degree level construction apprenticeships.
  • Endorsement of an East Sussex College bid to the Construction Industry Training Board. The bid was for a mobile Construction Hub to enable more flexible training and delivery.
  • Input into the curriculum, including the new T-Levels at East Sussex College Group (ESCG).
  • Key work with Sussex Council of Training Providers (SCTP) to support engagement between business and education. This informed co-design of the curriculum and recruitment of tutors from industry
  • Representing the construction sector annually at the East Sussex Apprenticeship Graduation ceremonies.
  • Supporting the Primary and Secondary Careers Hubs through the Enterprise Adviser Network, Industry Champions and Open Doors workplace visit programme. Read more about the Careers Hub
  • An example of activity is the Sector-based Work Academy Programme (SWAP) ‘Building Lives’ run by Willmott Dixon. It ran from 16 November to 11 December 2020 and took a cohort of 10 due to social distancing restrictions.

    Forty-eight referrals came through Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Nine out of ten completed the SWAP.  Participants gained a Level 1 Carpentry qualification, Level 1 Health and Safety qualification, employability skills training and a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card. At the end of the 4-week course, all participants had an interview with Willmott Dixon and Falcon Green. Three individuals started jobs, and 4 others were still in touch with the recruitment agency. 

This task group straddles two important sectors: creativity and culture and digital media. . Both of these use a range of media including print, audio, video and online. 

East Sussex is considered as a hub for these sectors, with a number of clusters across the county. The Task Group champions employability and skills to address the strategic priorities for these sectors.

The Task Group includes employers from including:

  • De La Warr Pavilion
  • Tech Resort
  • Glyndebourne
  • Bark Web Ltd


There are also representatives from education and training including:

  • East Sussex College Group
  • Culture Shift
  • University of Brighton
  • Sussex Council of Training Providers (SCTP)


The Group is jointly chaired by Kim Byford, Project Director, Talent Accelerator programme and Sally Staples, Cultural Strategy Manager of East Sussex County Council. 

Sally Staples Headshot
Sally Staples

Co-Chair Sally Staples, Cultural Strategy Manager East Sussex County Council

Sally Staples MA joined East Sussex County Council in 2012 as Cultural Strategy Manager. She was previously Head of the Kent County Council Arts Development Unit where she also managed the Kent Film Office.

Sally specialises in creating the strategic environment which allows the cultural sector to flourish. Sally’s involvement in the cultural sector has ranged from practitioner, facilitator, commissioner and writer to venue manager and performer. Her recent projects include:

  • South East Creatives (business support programme)
  • England’s Creative Coast (cultural tourism) and workspace development.

Task group update Autumn/Winter 2023

Members of the task group worked on the £200,000 bid to create a ‘Talent Accelerator’.  The proposal was endorsed by Culture East Sussex and the De La Warr Pavilion are the lead partner. The pilot had been in development locally and with colleagues in Kent and Essex.  Following delays due to the Covid pandemic, the ‘Talent Accelerator’  got going in earnest in late 2022 with DLWP the lead delivery organisation. 

The  'Talent Accelerator' focuses on creativity in context. A key component is supporting those who may not consider a career in the arts or creative industries, especially those who do not have family/friend connections or can afford to work as an intern or do work experience for free.  Another is the development of work experience and apprenticeships across a number of employers to increase exposure to a range of opportunities. It will work with children and young people from early years through to further education (FE) and also higher education(HE).

Priority tasks for 2024-25 are

  • Supporting the development of a Tutor Encounters event for the sector building on the successful 2023 construction sector event. The aim of these events is to upskill tutors (teachers, curriculum leads, tutors and career leads) so they can gain knowledge on a particular sector to help better advise and inform young people, as well as develop relationships with professionals in the sector.
  • Raising awareness of the impact of AI (Artificial Intelligence) on skills and job roles via an AI Skills Summit in 2024.

Creative and Digital Task Group meetings

Please find below the minutes of recent meetings.

If you wish to see minutes of a meeting not listed, please email Skills East Sussex and we will do our best to help.

Achievements in recent years

  • Secured £200,000 funding for the Talent Accelerator programme, led by the De La Warr Pavilion. Talent Accelerator is about creating a strategic step-change in creative and digital sector skills, careers and project-based learning. It is developing a more joined-up infrastructure between industry and education. This includes work experience, and a range of employer encounters such as careers workshops, events and assemblies. It is currently 18 months into the programme and has been overwhelmingly successful with positive feedback from industry and education providers. Further funding to build on the great work is currently being pursued.
  • Secured Ingenious funding which enabled Culture Shift project to deliver a project with Bexhill college, as well as taking on a digital marketing apprentice.
  • East Sussex Library Service and the County Council's Employment and Skills Team successfully carried out an European Social Fund (ESF) tablet loaning scheme. It helped 40 ESF participants from Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings and Wealden during the pandemic lockdowns. TechResort highlighted need for more donations of hardware to repurpose and loan out.
  • Representatives from the task group worked with the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) Digital Skills Partnership. The partnership comprised stakeholders from across the South East to increase awareness and access to digital skills training across the region.
  • Members of the task group supported the Open Doors venture ‘Into Games’, which was new in 2019-20. Ninety students from 9 schools took part in an engaging workshop focusing on the production of a game at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill. The workshop was based on groups of young people running their own ‘studio’. Students took on different roles – designer, marketing, programming, studio assistants – and came up with an idea for a game. INTOGames launched the new Games for Schools project. It provides £1.5 million worth of free Game Maker 2 software and resources for secondary schools to set up games clubs.
  • Introduced job role videos on the Careers East Sussex website during 2022, including programmers and software developers, marketing professionals and copywriters and cyber security officers.

The Engineering Task Group includes representatives from local employers. These include:

  • Akro Valve Ltd
  • Kurt J Lesker
  • Marshall Tufflex
  • General Dynamics

The task group includes representatives from education and training. These include:

  • East Sussex College Group (ESCG)
  • Bexhill College
  • Culture Shift CIC
  • University of Brighton.

Task Group Chair

Dan Wahnon of Marshall Tufflex took on the role of chair in late 2022. Dan graduated in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Hertfordshire. He then went on to work for Rolls Royce, as a development engineer on the Trent 1000 engine, before moving to Hastings in 2009 to pursue a career in precision engineering.

Dan is an advocate for apprenticeships; he has a real passion for lifelong learning - seeing every day as a new learning opportunity. He has recently graduated from the University of Chichester’s MBA degree apprenticeship himself.  

He has come to the role with enthusiasm; keen to promote the exciting opportunities within the engineering sector and encourage engagement between education and industry in East Sussex.

In his free time, he plays lead guitar in a local band, enjoys watching Formula 1 and extreme sports such as mountain biking.

Task group update Autumn/Winter 2023

  • Development of new CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) course with East Sussex College, Hastings. The course will be rolled out in April 2024, with a module already embedded into the T Level course. The CNC machinist role is one of the job videos on theEngineering & Advanced Manufacturing pages of the Careers East Sussex website. 
  • Supporting initial scoping of 2024 AI Skills Summit.
  • Promoted the primary school careers project to the membership.

Priorities for 2023-24 for the Task Group are

  • Support and oversight for the delivery of pilot Engineering After School Club project (subject to funding)
  • Improving perceptions of the sector
  • Acting as a platform for keynote speakers to address the employer network.
  • Consider new sector-specific training and development opportunities for upskilling/career changers.
  • Increased Task Group engagement with employers.

Engineering Task Group meetings

Please find below the minutes of recent task group meetings.

Contact Skills East Sussex  if you are a sector employer, training or education provider and want details. Other than your time, and occasional travel, there are no costs to joining Skills East Sussex meetings.  

If you wish to see minutes of a meeting not listed, please email Skills East Sussex and we will do our best to help.

Task group activity in recent years

Task group members engaged on the following activities to improve awareness of engineering:

  • Developed and submitted a bid to the Royal Engineers Ingenious Awards programme for a pilot Engineering After School Club in Hastings.
  • Supported development and delivery of Engineering and Construction Tutor Encounters Day, a CPD knowledge and upskilling event for tutors on a specific sector. It is an opportunity to hear from employers, make connections, and inspire their students ton consider a career in the sectors.
  • STEM Sussex applied to the Royal Academy of Engineers Ingenious Awards Programme on behalf of the Engineering Task Group. The proposal was to engage the public with engineers and engineering. It also provided engineers with the skills and opportunities to take part in public engagement.
  • Culture Shift led a project called ‘Your Town’. The project was funded through the Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious Fund. This allowed young people aged 11 to 18 in Hastings, Eastbourne and Newhaven to meet with engineers and find out more about what they do.

The Health and Social Care Task Group had its first meeting in January 2020 with the following membership:

  • Skills for Care
  • East Sussex College Group
  • University of Brighton
  • Independent training providers
  • NHS
  • Independent care providers
  • Health Education England
  • Adult Social Care, East Sussex County Council
  • Representatives of the clinical commissioning groups (CCG) – Sussex Transformation Partnerships.

In November 2021, the group agreed to join forces with other groups and become pan-Sussex. We even have some regular attendees from Kent and Surrey. The group was initially jointly chaired by Jayne Thwaites of NHS Sussex Health and Care Partnership and Karen Stevens of Skills for Care.  Jayne left the NHS in 2022, and Karen stepped down as chair due to other commitments at the end of March 2023.

The group are reviewing the frequency of meetings pending a new chair/co-chairs. 

Due to the size and geography of the group, meetings are held online via MS Teams. 

Task group update Spring/Summer 2023

  • East Sussex College Group (ESCG) responded to demand in developing an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) course specifically for workers in health and care. 
  • NHS Sussex Commissioners are looking to do more with apprenticeships. They have eight apprenticeships studying to Level 3 with East Sussex College Group. University of Brighton Level 5 Nursing Associate apprenticeship is continuing. 
  • The East Sussex NHS Training Hub is also developing apprenticeships
  • Integrated Care Board (ICB). for Sussex published its violence prevention and reduction strategy, possibly unique to this ICB.
  • A joint presentation was given by the universities of Brighton and Chichester on Nursing Associate programmes. A task group sub-group have worked with providers on making these courses more attractive and accessible, particularly to those with level 2 maths and English but not GCSEs. 
  • The MILE (Managers Investing in Leadership Excellence) website was demonstrated to the group. This was a joint project funded through East Sussex and West Sussex registered care associations.
  • Careers East Sussex (CES) are working with the NHS and Adult Social Care to develop a series of job roles videos. These will appear on the Health and Social Care section of the CES website. Watch that space for updates. 

Health and Social Care Task Group meetings

The Health and Social Care Task Group was meeting virtually every month. There was no meeting in May 2023  as this fell on the same day as the East Sussex Skills Summit. Nor was there a June meeting due to Secretariat and Chair availability. 

Contact Skills East Sussex  if you are a sector employer, training or education provider and want details. Other than your time, and occasional travel, there are no costs to joining Skills East Sussex meetings.  

If you wish to see minutes of a meeting not listed, please please email Skills East Sussex and we will do our best to help.

Priorities for 2021 to 2023

The remit of the overall task group is to join up the work being undertaken by the NHS Commissioning Groups, bodies such as local Health Education England, NHS Sussex Workforce, Skills for Care and other Health and Social Care groups to promote careers in the sector. 

Revitalising recruitment and supporting retention are vital to this incredibly important sector. Supportive training and career development help retain staff. Social care is particularly significant due to the age of the local population. Census 2021 shows us, East Sussex has the second highest proportion of those aged 85 or more.

On average during the peak of the pandemic, 40% of staff were off work due to illness or self-isolation. We have all been aware of the strikes in nursing and backlogs for treatment during 2022-23. There have been large numbers of vacancies in the sector but much is being done to address concerns and the NHS remains an attractive employer, and the social care sector continues to provide excellent opportunities for progression. 

A gradual return to face-to-face training and new delivery methods for training began in 2021. Staffing challenges also mean that it can be difficult to find time to release staff for training. Digital skills and extended clinical skills training is still required across the NHS and upskilling so that technology can support and enhance jobs and the patient experience is a key priority. 

The task group agreed in 2020-21 to promote the following roles:

  • Staff nurse
  • Family support and care worker
  • Technicians: sonographers, radiographers, occupational therapist
  • Social worker.

The pandemic and industrial action has delayed this work. but it is going ahead in collaboration with the NHS, Healthcare Trusts and Adult Social Care. 

The Agriculture and Environmental (formerly Land-Based Industries)Task Group will adopt a core and subgroup approach to enable employers to focus on their subsectors:

  1. horticulture, growing, gardening, forestry
  2. food and wine production
  3. animals, livestock.

Priorities 2019 to 2021

There are links with other task groups.

The Engineering Task Group will address the engineering elements of land-based sector.

The Visitor Economy Task Group will address the hospitality element of the land-based industries.

Upon relaunch, the areas that the group will focus on will include:

  • Future skills – automation, digital skills and clean growth within the sector
  • Careers East Sussex – the careers campaign for East Sussex that is running over the next two years
  • Curriculum development
  • Careers advice in schools
  • Apprenticeship provision
  • Adult upskilling and retraining.

For the Careers Campaign 2020 to 2021 the group will promote the following roles:

  • Gardener, horticulturalist
  • Veterinary nurse.

Task group update Spring 2022

  • There has been a delay in the restructuring of the Land-Based group due to the pandemic. Work from recent curriculum advisory panels at Plumpton College will help in the restructuring.
  • The Task Group is still likely to adopt a subgroup approach managed by Plumpton College. This will allow employers to focus on their subsectors:
    1. horticulture, growing, gardening, forestry
    2. food and wine production
    3. animals, livestock.
  • The Engineering Task Group will address the engineering elements of land-based sector. The Visitor Economy Task Group will address the hospitality element of the land-based industries.

The Visitor and Cultural Economy Task Group comprises employers and education professionals from organisations such as:

  • De La Warr Pavilion
  • University of Brighton
  • The View Hotel
  • East Sussex College Group
  • The Beacon

There are huge challenges in East Sussex related to recruitment and skills in this sector. Before the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown the task group was addressing the severe lack of chefs and hospitality managers in the county. It was also looking at the wider skills shortage in the sector.

Post lockdowns, external challenges include rising costs for businesses and customers.  The group are exploring innovative ways of recruitment and getting the right skills at the right time. 

Julie Barker
Julie Barker

Chair of Visitor and Cultural Economy Task Group, Julie Barker, MIoD, FIH, PGcert

Julie has a breadth of experience at Board and Chair level from her 30-year award-winning career within the hospitality industry. Julie is a specialist in stakeholder engagement. She has direct experience of leading large multi-disciplinary teams and interfacing with complex client bodies, national and regional organisations and institutions. Julie is a qualified chef and a ‘total foodie’. She is a tenacious and passionate advocate of the industry and aims to encourage new talent to choose the hospitality industry as a ‘career of choice’. Julie is an independent consultant specialising in public and third sector service delivery, working on a consultancy, non-executive director (NED) and interim leadership basis.

Task group activities in recent years

In 2019-2021 the task group undertook the following activity:

  • Certain task group members helped to establish the View Hotel in Eastbourne as a 'Hotel of Excellence'. The View will provide long-term placements for students at the University of Brighton. They will also provide five 50-day placements for East Sussex College group students as part of their new T-level provision.
  • In November 2019, students and staff from the University of Brighton ran an Open Doors (workplace visit) session at the View Hotel. The secondary school pupils completed work-related tasks. Some pupils enjoyed it so much that they want to find out more about careers in the sector.
  • In March 2020 some members of the task group met online with their counterparts from Kent. Colleagues shared good practice and planned a joint conference to encourage more employers to join the Task Group. These collaborative and strategic forums that will help the sector address the many challenges it is facing.
  • The meeting on 20 January 2021 was held during the sector's lowest ebb. All hospitality venues, apart from those doing take away food, had closed due to the lockdown. Despite this, a good number of members, including employers attended the meeting.
  • The discussion reflected the low mood with several industries within hospitality. These include event planners, weddings, and hotels. They reported a lack of adequate support for their businesses.
  • Several members expressed concern about the possible skills shortage when premises re-open. This could be made worse by the effect of Brexit. The sector has provided a lot of work to European Union (EU) nationals who may not come to the UK because of the new rules. Thousands of language students who bring several million pounds to the local economy also did not come in 2021-22.
  • There is concern that more hospitality courses in university are being withdrawn because of the negative effects of lockdown upon the sector

Task group update Spring/Summer 2023

  • The Task Group has welcomed new members, including those from the Eastbourne  Hospitality Association and interested councillors.
  • An Hospitality Roundtable event was held at the De La Warr Pavilion in February 2022, jointly hosted by East Sussex and Rother District Council.
  • In Session 1, employers were asked to work in groups with stakeholders to review the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to work at various levels within the hospitality sector. A key output from this session was the need for employers to help develop ‘soft skills’, especially given that many young people lost opportunities to develop these at a key stage in life during the Covid pandemic. 
  • Session 2 focused on how employers could link in with the education sector to develop robust, short, medium and long term recruitment strategies. This included hospitality having a presence at career and recruitment events to raise interest in the sector as an employer. There were presentations from East Sussex Careers Hub, East Sussex College Group and Bexhill College.
  • Session 3 focused on how employers could link with organisations that directly work with unemployed adults, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Job Centre Plus (JCP) and REED in Partnership who deliver the RESTART scheme for unemployed individuals aged 19 years and over.
  • The final session gave a recap and encouraged attendance at upcoming jobs fairs. Both chair, Julie Barker and the DWP have noticed a lack of hospitality representation at career and job fairs.  
  • The sector's participation would be helped by having more such events on Mondays. As well as hoteliers, retail and restaurants, visitor attractions need to be seen, too from theatres and cinemas to museums and galleries.
  • Sally Staples, the Cultural Strategy Manager for East Sussex, reported that the sector is hoping to see a steeper recovery than the economic crisis in 2008.  Sussex Modern has been part of a consortium of funding to Visit Essex, Visit Kent and Sussex Modern for marketing and promotion of the area. Sussex Modern aims to target the niche brand of long-staying, high spending tourists through promotion of local viticulture and culture venues. Visit Kent are bringing in an external company to manage customer sentiment tracking for the sector.
  • For the East Sussex Careers Campaign the task group agreed to promote the following roles: Chef, Hotel and restaurant managers
  • The job role videos for chef and event manager can be found on the Careers East Susses local industry pages for the sector. 

Visitor Economy Task Group meetings

Please find below the minutes of recent task group meetings.

Contact Skills East Sussex  if you are a sector employer, training or education provider and want details. Other than your time, and occasional travel, there are no costs to joining Skills East Sussex meetings.  

Please note: we know some of these files might not be suitable for users of assistive technology. If you use assistive technology such as a screen reader, please email Skills East Sussex and we will do our best to help.