Untangling Government funding – Mapping employment & skills provision for local authorities

Government funding and support for employment and skills – sounds straightforward enough right?  Not if you’re a local authority.  Research Matters worked with the Local Government Association earlier this year to map this provision and build a data-rich tool to help local authorities know and access what was available in their area. The tool is live for LGA members, launched today (November 18th 2021),

Click here for our final report: Mapping National Employment and Skills Provision.

Local authorities want to maximise available employment and skills provision to help residents progress in work and learning and support local businesses with their recruitment needs.  As we emerge from the COVID crisis, creating good jobs alongside education and training opportunities is ever more essential to local recovery efforts.  But support in this area of Government funding is complex, fragmented and repackaged all the time.  

Research problem

Employment and skills provision is funded and commissioned by different Government departments and agencies and delivered by a range of providers, who are contracted to work according to different spatial areas. As much of this is designed nationally, this can make it difficult to know what national provision and services are available on the ground locally. Local authorities want to make sure that any provision locally is maximised and is joined up to support residents and businesses

To give an example, the London Borough of Bexley sits in six differently defined regions (London, Home Counties, London and the Home Counties 2, South and East London, East Local London, and Local Enterprise Partnership for London) with some provision devolved to the Greater London Authority.  The borough must deal with at least 15 suppliers as well as multiple training providers.  As contracts end, new suppliers come on board.  For local government employment and skills teams (or similar), this can make it challenging to know across their local authority area, what support is available and when.

Research solution

Research Matters was commissioned by the Local Government Association to map the geographic footprint of all current (Spring 2021) nationally commissioned employment and skills programmes and identify which providers are delivering what and where, and in the near future.

We focused on identifying and detailing employment and skills programmes that are nationally contracted to external providers, on a national level or sub-nationally.  We also looked at other employment and skills programmes, including direct Government provision of employment support, allocated funding to education and training providers and relevant grants that are available now and in the near future.

We delivered a report that describes how employment and skills provision is commissioned and delivered, including highlighting both the geographic boundaries and the landscape of employment support providers.  We also provided a dataset that categorised and described programmes in detail and showed what providers were delivering across the myriad of geographic areas.  This has been developed into a tool which local authorities can use to look-up programmes and the relevant providers that are active in their area. Clearly this is a an every changing and evolving landscape, and so information needs to be updated regularly.

Research impact

The work by Research Matters is now helping local authorities by:

  • Providing a roadmap of current employment and skills provision;
  • Providing local authorities with a clear picture of what provision is available in their local authority area, including who provides it (where information is available) in their area;
  • Helping local authorities understand the spatial footprints that shape this provision and how this is changing;
  • Highlighting an evolving provider landscape of key national and local providers which might offer new opportunities for partnership and development;
  • Supporting local government to collaborate with central government to shape provision and maximise opportunities that arise.


At Research Matters, we love a good mapping project.  Whether its policies, interventions, funding opportunities, products or competitors, we have developed a pragmatic and productive methodology for building a usable resource for clients.  Always tailored to the specific needs of our clients and accompanied by clear and insightful analysis that give clients the understanding they need.  Get in touch if you have a project in mind and we will be happy to talk it through.

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