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Local Impact

South Yorkshire Skills Accelerator

Creating a skills system that enables businesses to thrive and grow.

In July 2021, South Yorkshire was chosen by the Department for Education to become one of eight Skills Accelerator Trailblazer areas.

Led by Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham, and Sheffield Chambers of Commerce, the South Yorkshire Skills Accelerator Trailblazer has now embarked on an ambitious mission to build a genuinely agile skills system that can keep pace with the changing needs of industry.

This is a complex issue which requires the input, participation and collaboration of the region’s businesses, skills partners, colleges, higher education and training providers.

Our approach will be shaped by new data and insight from businesses as it emerges, and our challenge will be to think differently and innovatively about how we can train and empower people to drive businesses forward, as changes in our economy accelerate.

Our focus is on placing employers at the very heart of skills provision to ensure that industry has the skills it needs to thrive now, and the support of a proactive, responsive skills network with the ability to adapt as these needs evolve.

This project will genuinely put skills planning in the hands of business for the first time – from new start-ups to well established businesses, and businesses of all sizes and in all sectors - we cannot do it without you! 


The South Yorkshire Accelerator Trailblazer will:

  1. Identify the digital skills requirements needed to support future success and growth of industry across South Yorkshire.
  2. Understand how we can enhance existing skills strategies with qualitative insight sourced from the region’s employers, including the ‘unusual suspects’.
  3. Identify removable barriers in the adult workforce skills system that prevent talent development.


As part of this, we will:

  • Improve the quality of skills debate in South Yorkshire and stimulate demand for skills investment in the region.
  • Create a shared understanding of the barriers to engagement and a joined-up and innovative action plan to address these. This includes linking into existing systems and structures including the Skills Advisory Network and South Yorkshire’s Education, Skills and Employability Board.
  • Work with colleges, higher education and training providers as one team to respond to the needs of businesses creating solutions which add value to our workforce enhancing and embedding collaboration across business and the skills sector.
  • Use new and existing data and research to underpin our plan and validate our findings and assumptions.
  • Celebrate good practice and amplify existing research
  • Work with local as well as national partners to ensure local success meets national policy.
  • Challenge ourselves to think differently and truly make a difference for the South Yorkshire region recognising the differences in each area.


South Yorkshire Skills Accelerator Board

The Skills Accelerator Project Board will provide strategic, senior governance and leadership which the delivery team will feed into.  In recognition of the nature of the LSIP and SDF within the region, the two projects will be represented on the same Project Board to ensure complete alignment towards shared goals.

Membership is:

  • Yiannis Koursis, CEO Barnsley College
  • Jane Hickie, CEO AELP
  • Karen Beardsley, MD Unipart Rail and Non-executive Director Doncaster Chamber
  • Andrew Deniff, CEO Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce
  • Karen Mosley (Chair), MD HLM Architects
  • Matt Travis, Director Enzygo
  • Chris Diamond, Sheffield Digital
  • Dan Kirkland, Tribe Pad
  • Dave Lombardi, FSB
  • Alan Chater, Joint Professional Engineering Institutions Committee
  • Conor Moss, Group Director, Business Engagement, Skills and Employability at Sheffield Hallam University
  • Nikki  Jones, Director, AMRC Training Centre
  • Helen George, Asst Director - Employment and Skills at SYMCA


How do I get involved and find out more?

We need you to engage with us to make this project a success.

We are planning a schedule of stakeholder events over the coming months which will bring industry partners together with our skills sector to listen and learn about the challenges and barriers that you face.

This direct feedback will inform our further research and our Local Skills Improvement Plans response - so please get involved!

Activities and Engagement Events

Business organisations, town chambers, other business groups and representative bodies are ALL encouraged to involve their business members to ensure we all help shape future skills needs.



14 October 2021 - Skills Accelerator Board Meeting, online


17 November 2021 - Skills Accelerator Board Meeting, online


30 November 2021 - Skills Accelerator Launch Event, Barnsley College



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