As England’s largest Metropolitan Borough, and home to 311,000 people, Doncaster is a vital part of the Sheffield City Region economic area. However, as a post-industrial borough, it faces long-standing challenges: socio-economic deprivation, a low skills equilibrium, health inequalities, and low social mobility. Pre-pandemic, good progress was made towards meeting these challenges, with a significant growth to the economy, the reawakening and transformation of traditional areas of industrial strength (engineering, transport, health and care), and the emergence of new industries (green technology, creative and digital).
The borough’s strategic partnership – Team Doncaster – recognises, however, that real prosperity also requires a substantial investment in people. Team Doncaster has therefore developed a new long-term Education and Skills Strategy, centred around five priorities that span the lifelong learning journey. Crucially, the strategy also recognises the need to significantly change the system itself. Building on the progress that has already been made to establish a University City centred around four key industry specialisms, and drawing on insights from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Team Doncaster has committed to developing a Talent and Innovation Ecosystem. emphasising the place-based nature of it and the whole systems approach and critically being demand-led linked to key business sectors and emerging business sectors (centres of excellence for each). At the core of the ecosystem stands a powerful double helix: talent development entwined with business innovation, through the power of problem-based learning. Orchestrated by the University City partnership, new and different lifelong learning opportunities, assessment, and accreditation will be arranged coherently across a range of learning settings, for people of all ages and backgrounds.