In the context of an increasingly uncertain political climate within the UK and indeed across the wider world, issues of economic resilience and how to better prepare for economic shocks are undeniably important.

This research, undertaken on behalf of Colleges Wales/ColegauCymru, sets out to examine the relationship between higher level skills and economic resilience. It does so by drawing on the experiences of six European regions. Using a range of published evidence and face-to-face interviews across the six regions, the research team found that a range of factors influenced economic resilience, of which higher level skills was just one aspect.

Taking the knowledge gained from this stage of the project, the research team proceeded to discuss the findings with stakeholders in Wales. The report that follows makes an important contribution to the debate on economic resilience, skills and importantly, how Wales can make the most of the knowledge and experience shared by our partners in other European countries. Collaboration, whether within regions or between regions, remains key as we seek to charter the future. The report also reminds us that the quality of our skills system is not measured by summative or formative lists of achievements set against marking criteria but by its ability to support economies of people and place to be both resilient and able to respond to emerging needs.

This research would not have been possible without funding from the European Union via an EACEA grant to EQAVET National Reference Points, for which ColegauCymru is grateful. Our thanks go also to the research team of Dr Mark Lang, Phil Whitney, Bradley Tanner and Ian Pegg, and to Professor Gill Bristow and Dr Adrian Healy at Cardiff University for their expert support and guidance. Finally, we are also grateful to those who gave their time and expertise as part of the interview process to contribute to this research, across the six European regions and within Wales, and all those who have helped or contributed to the project throughout its duration.

Dr Rachel Bowen
ColegauCymru Director of Policy and Development

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