Agenda item


The Surrey Skills Plan (SSP) was launched in November 2022. The plan forms the strategic basis for delivering skills priorities in Surrey and sets out a collective vision for a dynamic, demand led skills system. The SSP has four strategic objectives, with the second objective ‘Supporting People’ aligning most closely with Priority 3 of the Health and Wellbeing Strategy. The attached presentation provides an overview of the SSP, an update on the implementation of the Supporting People objective and asks the Board to consider how it can support the delivery of the SSP ambitions going forward.





Michael Coughlin - Executive Director - Partnerships, Prosperity and Growth, Surrey County Council

Sarah Randall - Economy Lead (Skills), Surrey County Council


Key points raised in the discussion:


1.    The Executive Director - Partnerships, Prosperity and Growth (SCC) noted that:

·         The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s budget statement made the link between good employment and health in terms of encouraging people back into work.

·         Good employment facilitated by the right skills was a significant contributor to the wider determinants of health: mental, physical and preventive.

·         Surrey on average had a highly skilled population, however businesses and some parts of the public sector - particularly the health sector - had identified the genuine skills gap in Surrey in certain places and sectors.

·         The national skills system was fragmented, complex and difficult for some people to navigate through, the Surrey Skills Plan was a response to those issues, developed as part of an overall programme linking to Surrey’s lifetime of learning education strategy and the ambition to have improved careers education promoting routes such as T-Levels and Apprenticeships.

·         The Surrey Skills Plan has four main elements: supporting businesses and the local economy to attract and enable them to engage with those who have the skills needed to support their businesses, supporting people into meaningful employment that often is the source of routine and self-worth, it was a foundation for collaboration across businesses and further education providers, it was future proofed by casting forward the skills that would be needed in the future economy such as the green skills agenda.

·         The Plan sought to bring together the different routes and providers, it was a chapter within the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) around post-16 technical education, put together by the Surrey Chambers of Commerce.

·         A challenge was around how to maintain the partnership effort needed to deliver the Plan, a detailed action plan was underway and Board members were asked to consider how they would engage.

2.    The Chairman noted that there had been national conversations about the number of economically inactive people due to ill-health and wondered whether the budget statement would address that. Surrey had a lot of people that had retired early for a variety of reasons and trying to get them back into employment to help fill some of those skills gaps was important.

3.    The Vice-Chairman asked how the Plan aligned with the United Surrey Talent strategy, co-developed between the local authority and health around developing the future workforce; particularly around skills development in health.

-       The Executive Director - Partnerships, Prosperity and Growth (SCC) responded that the United Surrey Talent strategy was one element of the Plan in terms of delivering a particular set of skills within a particular sector along with the work by Surrey’s academies and other further education providers, university courses; amalgamated into a cohesive Plan. The Plan was initiated originally by the private sector highlighting that they were struggling with work readiness and the right level of skills needed.

4.    A Board member noted that employment rates for people with mental health needs was down 10%, he asked how health inequality was being looked at noting the need to be assertive and proactive in identifying those groups. There were around 65,000 people between primary and secondary healthcare that the Surrey and Borders Partnership (SABP) was working with; he asked whether a package could be tailored for those people to try and help them get jobs.

-       The Executive Director - Partnerships, Prosperity and Growth (SCC) welcomed that suggestion, he noted that one of the foundational principles of the Plan was around supporting people and inclusion. There had been discussions around those who had either long-term debilitating conditions - particularly around mental health - and the levels of support that they might need to encourage them back into work, the approach to focus on the routine of work and less around technical skills. From discussions with the
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) he noted the need to develop further the approach of referring people with mental health issues into voluntary sector bodies who would provide wraparound support to help them into the role of work, rather than support focusing on the acquisition of skills.

-       The Economy Lead (Skills) (SCC) flagged the importance of in-work progression support enabling people to stay in their jobs to prevent a churn in the workforce, through an increased focus on supporting local businesses and how they grow their workforce to keep those people in businesses.

5.    The Priority 1 Sponsor noted that in Mole Valley and probably across the other borough and district councils, there was the Employment and Skills Hub that provided support to all but with a focus on those with complex needs either to get into their first job or re-enter employment if they had been out for employment for some time; she was happy to share the detail on the work of the Hub.

6.    The Priority 2 Co-Sponsor in terms of retaining people in the workforce - not necessarily people with a known mental health problem - regarding the emotional wellbeing of the workforce and how people are equipped to remain in the work, to thrive and to be open to skills development, she wondered how the work underway could be connected to the joint programme of work with the Public Health team (SCC) around workforce wellbeing.

-       The Executive Director - Partnerships, Prosperity and Growth (SCC) responded that there was an opportunity to build on what had been put in place already and to explore those opportunities, he would liaise with those Board members. He noted that several employers including the County Council did a huge amount of work around staff wellbeing.

7.    A Board member referred to a visit that morning to one of Surrey’s special schools, Portesbery School, post-16 they had to offer work experience opportunities within the school running enterprise opportunities like the mobile tuck shop, because of a reduction in those opportunities externally post-pandemic. Under the Plan, she noted that it would be brilliant to see a reopening of those opportunities by all organisations for those young people.

8.    The Chairman encouraged organisations to feedback on ways to help the delivery of the Plan, particularly to provide mutual support around getting people into work. He noted the comments on the Teams meeting chat about care leavers and people with autism and hoped that the Plan would be as comprehensive as possible.




1.    Noted progress against the implementation of the Surrey Skills Plan.

2.    Considered how HWB members and organisations can engage with delivering the Surrey Skills Plan ambitions.


Actions/further information to be provided:


1.    The Executive Director - Partnerships, Prosperity and Growth (SCC) will liaise with the Board member (Graham Wareham) on his suggestion of having a tailored package for those people with mental health needs in healthcare that the SABP was working with, to try and help them get jobs.

2.    The Priority 1 Sponsor will provide the detail on the work of Mole Valley District Council’s Employment and Skills Hub.

3.    The Executive Director - Partnerships, Prosperity and Growth (SCC) will liaise with the Priority 2 Co-Sponsor and the Director of Public Health (SCC) on the joint programme of work around workforce wellbeing.


Supporting documents: