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£165 million fund launched to transform local skills

Local communities across the country are set to benefit from a share of £165 million to transform skills training in their area and help get more people into jobs closer to home.

Further education providers are invited to apply for cash from the Local Skills Improvement Fund, which will be used to renovate facilities with up-to-date equipment, help to upskill teachers, and deliver new courses in key subjects such as green construction, carbon capture and cyber security that meet the needs of local employers. This means that wherever there are skills black holes, they will now be filled.

Thousands of people will benefit from this boost to skills training, helping them secure good jobs close to where they live. It will also provide a boost to local economies, as employers will have access to a workforce which is equipped with the specific skills businesses need to grow.

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon said:

Building a world-class skills and apprenticeships nation means listening to the specific needs of local people, businesses, and institutions.

This funding will revolutionise how we plug local skills gaps and provide a boost to the economy. Supporting colleges to better meet the needs of local employers not only boosts businesses, it extends the ladder of opportunity to even more people from all backgrounds who will be equipped with the skills they need to secure a rewarding job close to home.

Successful applicants will receive funding to invest in a broad range of initiatives that respond to the specific priorities identified in each area’s Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP). The plans have been created by employer representative bodies in every region of the country and set out the key priorities and changes needed in each area to make post-16 technical training more closely aligned to local labour market needs.

The initiative builds on the success of the Strategic Development Fund, which has already made £157 million available to the further education sector to invest in a range of projects that have had a huge impact on plugging skills gaps in communities up and down the country. This includes investment in the equipment and facilities needed to upskill people in areas such as electric and hybrid vehicle maintenance, automation and artificial intelligence.

New City College is part of the collaborative Green Academy Partnership of 13 colleges across London which received a share of £961k revenue and £1.5m capital SDF funding for Green Labs, with investment in key technologies in the low carbon and renewables sector.

Jamie Stevenson, Group Executive Director at New City College said:

Being the project lead for the Central London Forward SDF project has enabled us, alongside local employers and stakeholders, to pioneer a new way of working. From the project’s inception, we have worked collaboratively to identify and meet the local need for high quality technical training to develop green skills. This has included upskilling teaching staff and setting an industry-leading standard for low carbon energy learning labs.

The SDF has made an important contribution to local people and employers in Central London by providing access to green skills training which supports people to get a good job or further develop their career in the low carbon energy sector, enabling us to work towards meeting the 2050 net zero challenge.

Weston College is one of four colleges in the West of England which received a share of £1.2m revenue and £1.5m capital SDF funding to invest in training and state-of-the-art equipment for the Aerospace, Advanced Engineering and Health and Social Care sectors to meet the urgent skills needs of the region and the pace of technological development.

Sir Paul Phillips CBE, Principal and Chief Executive of Weston College said:

This funding has been a catalyst for change for our delivery of skills in the West of England, bringing together educational providers and employers around the table to ensure partnerships are both proactive and effective.

We have been able to use the funds to tailor provision to employer needs but also to ensure it fits with the regions we serve. It is absolutely important that this ground breaking work continues to advance with the flexibilities to match each area’s priorities and the specialist skills needed for the industries that are so key to both our regional and national economic growth.

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