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CFE was commissioned by HEFCE to undertake research in the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber on business demand for higher level skills. The methodology used was that developed by CFE for its Known Unknowns report undertaken in 2007 which surveyed 438 businesses in the East Midlands.

Telephone surveys of employers in the two regions (private sector companies employing at least 25 people) found that over 90 per cent had invested in some training in the past 12 months. Of the 894 employers in the two regions who had undertaken some form of training, 30 per cent reported training at higher levels. Significantly, higher education institutions and further education colleges have a substantial share of the reported investment in higher level learning (67 per cent per region) and at least 70 per cent of businesses in each region reported that higher-level skills training had had a positive impact on their business.

The research also found, of the businesses who had not invested in higher level skills for their existing staff (70 per cent per region), 56 per cent of responses in the West Midlands and 52 per cent in Yorkshire and Humber cited this was because there was no business case. A further 40 per cent of responses in the West Midlands and 38 per cent in Yorkshire and Humber did not engage in higher level skills training for their staff because the skills were already available internally or were recruited in.

A comparative summary of the findings from these two regional reports, plus the 2007 report from the East Midlands, was published in July and is available below. This summary also draws on employer studies in the South East and London, and identifies methodological issues for such studies.

We welcome feedback on these reports; please send your views to Sarbani Banerjee at s.banerjee@hefce.ac.uk.