We’re now officially live, and we’re focusing on our first two systematic reviews. These are on flexibility in adult skills, and business support. We’ve chosen to start with these themes after a lot of conversations during the summer – with people in local authorities, LEPs and in the research community. A lot of policy areas came up but for many of you these two are your current priorities.
It’s not hard to see why. Almost all City Deals involve shifting skills policy towards the local level, and we expect many Local Growth Deals to put in similar asks. And after the winding up of Business Link, many towns and cities are developing their own business support services and finance tools. In both cases, though, policy-making is running ahead of the evidence. Our reviews are designed to bring the two into better alignment.
As part of the reviews we’re putting out a call for evidence – here it is!
Some specifics. ‘Adult skills’ is a fuzzy term – we use it to mean roughly “publically funded training provided to anyone post-compulsory education age in a non-school, non-university setting.” It covers FE, locally-designed programmes or welfare to work programmes like the New Deal if they have a skills / training component. Don’t let the precise definition put you off – if you have something that you think is appropriate please let us have it.
On the business support review we’re most interested in the ‘softer’ interventions at the moment – mentoring, advice and networks rather than grants, loans or other types of finance (although we would include efforts to signpost or assist applications to these kind of programmes).
As we discuss in our post describing our evidence reviews, what we’re looking for is robust evaluations of such programmes – whether these are local or national, including pilots, and from the UK or other countries. We’re most interested in quantitative studies that use data on beneficiaries and suitable ‘control’ groups to help figure out the impact of policy. We’re also very interested in existing evidence reviews, the more thorough the better.
Some of you have already pointed us to work you know of or have done – a huge thanks for that.
We’d encourage the rest of you to have a think and point us to anything that might fit. If you’re not sure it’s relevant or right – please let us see it! We don’t want to miss anything key, so we’d rather have material even if it gets filtered out later. The easiest way to reach us is via email, twitter, or leave us a comment below and we’ll get in touch.