Lead Edge

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Lead Edge's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Lead Edge is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
We are committed to upskilling
the Midlands workforce
96 per cent of our learners achieve
their qualifications, with 82 per cent
going on to higher learning
Lead Edge Ltd offer a variety of training programmes
designed to develop the skills and expertise of workers in
the carpentry and wider construction industries. They aim
to promote lifelong learning and are dedicated to improving
the skills of workers in their local area of the Midlands. Working
alongside other training providers and their clients, they try to
design and improve their programmes to ensure the highest
level of success. Quality Co-ordinator Caroline Haines explains
their commitment to working with their clients and the benefits
they provide to their community.
At Lead Edge, we are committed to supporting construction business development,
particularly with SME construction employers. We offer a variety of training
programmes, including the teaching of high-quality carpentry skills and
construction management, which we offer to companies and their employees. We
endeavour to promote lifelong learning by encouraging our learners to develop
high aspirations and providing access to higher learning opportunities. We always
provide information, advice and guidance, and we support the identification of
next career or learning steps for each individual.
We have very high success rates, with 96 per cent of our learners achieving
their qualifications and 82 per cent progressing to higher learning and career
progression. This demonstrates the effectiveness of our provision and our
employer-centred approach.
We are situated in the Midlands, and we face a variety of local challenges. Local
communities suffer from high levels of deprivation and low qualification achievement.
»Quality Co-ordinator:
»Established in 2009
»Based in the Midlands
»Services: Specialist carpentry
»No. of clients: 80 to 100 every
»Qualification success rate of
96 per cent, with 82 per cent
of learners progressing to
higher levels of training
Lead Edge
Highlighting best practice
One of the major issues in the sector
is a low-skilled and ageing workforce,
which is exacerbated by a growing
demand for high-level professional
roles, including qualified site and
project managers. Over 80 per cent of
construction employers are SMEs, and
these firms often operate on a short-
term business planning basis, meaning
that investment in skills development is
often a low priority. Many carpenters
are employed through the Construction
Industry Scheme (CIS), and this hinders
access to public-funded skills support.
As a small training provider, we also face
the challenge of negotiating access to
apprenticeships. We are a subcontractor
to larger providers, and we are
tasked with trying to fulfil employer
requirements. As their delivery provider,
we are required to work to complex
funding rules that require main partner
involvement in delivery, regardless of
whether this is the employer’s choice.
Furthermore, as the vast majority of
employed workers in the construction
industry are CIS registered, this can
prevent carpenters and builders
accessing apprenticeships which
require PAYE eligibility.
Turning challenges into
We have developed a number of
different techniques to try to overcome
these challenges and to turn them
into opportunities to expand our
business. One of the main ways we
have tried to achieve this is by being
creative and flexible when engaging
with employers. We recognise the
challenges that exist when developing
partnerships with construction SMEs,
and we always try to provide an
individualised service, as the needs
of each of our partners will always
Our employer engagement model is
based on developing a culture of trust,
honesty and credibility. We utilise
networking opportunities and site visits
to try to make new introductions or
to develop our existing relationships.
In these interactions, we always
demonstrate our expertise of the
construction industry and show our
understanding of the challenges that
smaller construction employers face.
We have also developed employer
awareness of training as a solution to
Over 80 per cent of
construction employers
are SMEs and we have
experience of their
As their
provider, we
are required
to work to
funding rules
that require
main partner
regardless of
whether this is
the employer’s
address their business needs. Using
an organisational needs analysis
document that is appropriate to
the construction industry, we work
with each employer to identify
current business needs, longer-term
company goals, current and future
We identify the potential for skills
development as a solution to address
some or all of these needs, including
the respective priority of these
training solutions. Similarly, we always
strive to outline to employers the
financial benefits of undertaking our
programmes. Upskilling elements of
the workforce adds value to long-
term business growth and has a
significant impact on the productivity
of eachcompany.
Financial matters are always a primary
concern for our employers, so relating
the benefits of training to the financial
impact provides a context that is clearly
understood and appreciated. We
always work collaboratively with our
employers to identify and design the
necessary solutions. We have found
that the involvement of employers in
the creation of training strategies helps
to build stronger commitments and
helps to engender shared responsibility
for their success.
Working with other providers
Another key element of our practice
is developing mutually beneficial
relationships with other providers.
This helps to increase the quality of
our service and helps to increase
funding opportunities. We have
created partnerships with local
colleges and providers, which has
enabled us to access a wealth of
new funding opportunities and has
supported our own business growth
and quality development. Although
we are struggling with the current
apprenticeship subcontracting funding
rules, we are liaising with our partners
to create delivery models that meet
these requirements while fulfilling
employer preferences.
CIS-employed carpenters are unable
to access higher level training support
on the same basis as PAYE employees,
an issue we have reported to various
bodies and have campaigned about.
As our small construction clients
employ local people, their commitment
to training can result in an increase of
the skills levels in the local area.
We are focused on providing a high-
quality service and aim for excellence
in everything that we do. Our
operating principles are based on a
model that prioritises both learners and
employers, placing them at the heart
of everything we do. We encourage
them to dream big and aim high, and
this is underpinned by our own high
expectations of what they can achieve.
For many of our employers and
learners, their involvement with us
is often the first time that they have
undertaken training for a long time.
We therefore make every effort
to ensure that their experience is
enjoyable, successful and beneficial.
carpenters do
not have the
ability to access
support on the
same basis as
employees, and
we have
reported this
issue to various
bodies and have
about it
We have created
partnerships with local
colleges and training
providers to widen our
skills offer to employers

This article was sponsored by Lead Edge. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy