Turning insight, evidence and ideas into action


Skills, Employment, Training and Careers 

Skyblue’s consultancy team has 24 years direct experience of designing, evaluating, shaping and managing programmes designed to help individuals improve their labour market situation.  Authors of the first ‘sectoral workforce development plans’ when guidance was first issued by the Cabinet Office back in the 1990s, the team has since delivered over 1,000 projects in the UK and Europe in over 20 discrete industrial business sectors. These have enabled clients in those sectors to better support their existing workforce and engage their future workforce.

We understand, and believe firmly that skills are a huge driver of economic and social growth. Responsibility for skills however is never clear cut. Investment models aimed at increasing the skills base across state, industry and individuals achieve mixed success. Attempts to link training provision to meet industry’s changing needs have different levels of impact, and most recent reforms in education and careers, information, advice and guidance suggest there is so much more needs to be done in order to help young people and adult career seekers make more informed choices.

This is the backbone of our business. Whilst we have a strong heritage in this area of policy, research, evaluation, sector skills and consultancy specialism we know that further reform is inevitable and that we need to continually invest proactive effort in planning different scenarios impacting our clients and the labour market in future as a result of policy changes. Funding models for skills are radically shifting; the employer ownership agenda is increasing in force; approaches to learning are moving away from ‘chalk and talk’ to more blended experiences to meet learner needs; and the fight for talent as we come out of recession is truly on. We would like to work with you to ensure your skills, employment, training and careers strategies and plans are as successful as they can be. We will ensure their impact is well communicated and help you identify quality improvements throughout their formulation and delivery so that the things that really work have the best chance of being sustained; and the things that don’t work so well are recognised in sufficient time to mitigate wasted effort. 


Track Record Highlights


  • European Social Fund and Leonardo skills programmes and themes (various sectors including financial services, sport and active leisure, hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism)



  • Research and evaluation experience having been on a variety of Frameworks including LSC (Sector Skills Pilots); DWP (unemployed and worklessness focus)
  • BIS and Skills Funding Agency investment evaluations e.g. the impact of the National Skills Academy Network (published work: ‘Creating Better Futures’)
  • We are completing over £50m of independent evaluation of sector skills programmes across sectors as diverse as biology (life science), advanced manufacturing, playwork, adult social care, low carbon and energy efficiency, construction, creative and culture, and nuclear 

Sector Skills and National Skills Academies


  • We have worked with three quarters of all SSCs and their predecessor bodies in this country advising on anything from policy to organisational formation, to governance advice and set-up, to completion of labour market research, to standards and qualifications review to Business Case / Bid development through to complete monitoring and evaluation partnerships
  • We have worked with every single National Skills Academy since that Network was formed and provided expert advice and guidance in respect of strategy and plan design, research programme support, completion of stakeholder research projects and training to staff to help them develop their monitoring and evaluation capabilities


Skyblue has significant experience understanding the economic returns and social benefits from apprenticeship programmes, across sectors including creative & cultural and construction engineering. The team can carry out both qualitative and quantitative research with apprentices, supervisors and training staff to provide a detailed organsational level or programme-wide picture of activity. Skyblue works closely with training providers and employers to facilitate access.

Graduates and Under Graduates

Our work for clients including the Society of Biology and National Skills Academy for Nuclear has exposed us to degree programme level students and the challenge of fitting research and evaluation into their busy schedules. Our studies have also included consideration of incentives (such as sponsorship and innovative rotational company graduate programmes) to retain graduate talent either in local economies or specific sectors for clients.

Education Stakeholders


Increasingly our work is tackling projects that seek to help more people make more informed choices about their careers. Whilst not exclusively working in schools, current commissions at scale tend to focus around seeking out the attitudes of young people in primary, middle and secondary schools to understand what influences their decisions and what would help them make ‘the right choice for them’. Research with thousands of young people, teachers, careers advisors/practitioners and employers are all part of our service offering to clients looking to connect with their future workforce.

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