John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council
In the past three years Peterborough businesses have added almost 7,000 jobs to our economy and our private sector jobs market is now one of the most buoyant nationally.
Only this week we were rated the fifth best place in the country to work by recruitment firm Glassdoor, which ranked towns and cities on how easy it is to get a job, how affordable it is to live there and how satisfied employees are working there. We finished higher than the likes of Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol.
It’s clear that confidence in the city’s future is growing. Only recently major retailer House of Fraser announced plans to open a distribution centre here, creating up to 1,000 jobs.
We have to make sure this confidence continues and that we retain and attract new businesses from a wide variety of sectors, whilst at the same time giving our residents the chance to acquire the skills they need to work for those businesses.
I believe that we can achieve exactly that if we press ahead with our proposed devolution deal with government.
As part of a combined authority for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough we can take on responsibilities and funding from government that will give us a greater say in how skills training is delivered and, importantly, tailor our learning and skills opportunities to the needs of our residents and employers.
For example, we would have control over funding to provide 19+ adult education, as well as the Apprenticeship Age Grant which incentivises employers to offer apprenticeships. With the latter we would be able to ensure opportunities are available in the employment sectors where they are most needed.
The government has also given its commitment to support the review of post-16 education and training. This is crucial as it will allow us to understand what skills our businesses are looking for in their employees and whether our schools and colleges are meeting those needs.
In addition, we will see investment to enable University Centre Peterborough to attain Taught Degree Awarding powers and longer term establish an independent university. Currently many of our young people have to leave Peterborough to achieve their chosen degree which is a great shame.
The result of all this is that our residents and anyone else choosing to further their learning here will be able to gain training and qualifications that will enable them to build a life for themselves in Peterborough. Our businesses will have a wealthy talent pool to choose from.
But it’s now over to you to tell us what you think so that councils and the secretary of state can consider your opinions when taking decisions later in the year.
You can read more about the proposals and take part in an online survey by visiting www.peterborough.gov.uk/devolution. You will also be able to pick up hard copies of the questionnaire at Town Hall and Bayard Place receptions and all libraries. The consultation closes on 23 August.
I was pleased to read in the news that we have been rated tenth nationally for the performance of our academy partners in raising standards at secondary schools.
I’m not a supporter of the academisation of all schools, but we have seen in Peterborough that good quality academy providers can really drive up standards at under-performing schools.
I will continue to develop academy clusters for those schools moving towards academy partnerships, so that schools in close proximity can jointly benefit from association with a specialist provider. We have seen this work well in the east of the city with Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust and I’d like to replicate this.
If you need help deciding on the next steps to take in your education or career then the East of England Careers Show, organised by The Skills Service, at the East of England Showground might be worth a visit tomorrow (Friday 15 July).
Attending will be companies offering jobs or apprenticeships and the colleges or universities offering courses. You’ll even get to see one of Force India’s 2015 Formula One cars! For more information visit www.careersshow.co.uk