<p>In this paper, Alan McGregor and Andy Hirst look at some of the issues that must be addressed in\ud making skills investments more tailored to the needs of a local economy. They draw on a number of\ud case studies to illustrate the importance of an evidence based approach to both more effective planning\ud of provision and to making the skills system more responsive to changing demands.</p>\ud \ud <p>The tightening fiscal climate means that it is more important than ever that we maximise the economic\ud returns on public investment in skills. However, the UK has a long, and relatively undistinguished track\ud record in trying to plan skills provision to meet the needs of the economy. One argument is that we need\ud to make better use of evidence to improve performance. A counter argument is that this is a futile\ud approach and we should focus instead on improving the efficiency of the skills system by enabling it to\ud respond to changing demands more flexibly.</p>\ud \ud <p>Whichever approach is taken, our authors are clear that decisions should be based on a much better\ud understanding of the current returns on skills investment. Better use of performance data could root out\ud much poor quality or inappropriate provision.</p>\ud \ud <p>We hope that bringing these expert views and evidence to our audience will further inform decision\ud making in the region and its local economies.</p
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