We encourage collaboration and the exchange of knowledge between universities and businesses, local authorities, professional bodies, charities and a wide range of other stakeholders to ensure that businesses and employers are supported to grow, become more innovative and productive, and can access the skills that they need.
Our work on innovation, growth and skills covers a range of areas and projects. In all of these we seek to support and promote the significant efforts universities are already making.
We research and promote the economic impact of universities across the UK and the value they add nationally, regionally and locally. In 2017 our economic impact report demonstrated that universities supported almost one million jobs, and contributed £21.5 billion to UK gross domestic product in 2014-15 alone.
Universities have a central role to play in the ongoing devolution of funding and services to local areas. As providers of education and skills, significant economic actors, large employers, key partners of public services and leaders in local growth initiatives, universities have the people and knowledge to help drive local growth, and have much to offer in strengthening and delivering devolution settlements.
University collaboration with businesses and the wider community (activity known as 'knowledge exchange') plays an important part in improving the UK's economic growth and productivity, and in the success of our public services.
We work with Research England, higher education sector experts and representatives of the business community to increase understanding of the role universities play to encourage exchange of best practice between academia and business.
In England we represent the sector in the European Structural Investment Funds Programme, which universities use to help them collaborate with businesses, charities and Local Enterprise Partnerships on innovation, skills development, and business support and advice.
England has been allocated €6.9 billion from the European Union's European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) between 2014 and 2020.
We produce regular ESIF webcasts offering analysis and guidance; maintain a Universities and Local Growth LinkedIn group, and an email list to which we circulate ESIF Growth Programme Board papers.
We support the development of strong links between universities and employers to boost the employability of graduates and recognition of the value of graduate skills.
We are working to support the development of degree apprenticeships in England and the development of wider apprenticeships policy across the UK. The future of degree apprenticeships is a new project to ensure degree apprenticeships fully meet employers' skills needs, provide opportunities and contribute to productivity and economic growth.
We are working with Buckinghamshire New University and The University of Sheffield who are leading the Higher Education Employer Trailblazer consortium responding to the introduction of apprenticeship standards.