Monday, December 15, 2014

News: Fund to invest in engineering skills

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Employer Ownership funding from the Government to develop training to boost engineering is being made available to small and medium sized engineering firms to help their businesses grow.

Engineering companies with fewer than 250 employees will be able to apply for a share of the first £2.5m of a £10m match funding pot to develop innovative company-specific training. The first £20m of the fund is for employers looking to develop projects aimed at improving engineering careers and increasing the number of women in the sector.

Employers in the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector in the Sheffield city region are already working together to take ownership of addressing skills issues. KOSTAL, the German firm which develops and manufactures technologically advanced electronic, electromechanical and mechatronic products and has its UK base in Goldthorpe, which is in Barnsley, secured part of a £5m government fund that gives funding direct to businesses, enabling them to raise skills, create jobs, and drive enterprise and economic growth.

Under the Employer Ownership Pilot (EOP), employers combine their own money with government funding, to invest in the training they need. Brinsworth Training in Rotherham is also running the Academy of Manufacturing and Engineering Excellence (AMEE), which is part-funded by the government's Employer Ownership Fund and is targeting training up to 800 young people and placing 300 jobless into apprenticeships.

The initiatives follow on from the recommendations of the Perkins Review of Engineering Skills published in November 2013, and sees the Government establishing partnerships with employers from across industry with multi-million pound collaborative investments in initiatives such as The National College of Advanced Manufacturing which will be joint-headquartered in Rotherham.

Skills minister Nick Boles said: "A company's greatest asset is its people and making sure they have the right skills is vital in supporting the long-term economic plan. This funding gives employers the power to unlock the full potential of their workforce by designing and developing training catered to their specific needs. I encourage all small and medium sized engineering firms to consider how they could use this funding to take their business to the next level."

The latest funding will be more accessible to smaller firms and will see the minimum funding threshold being lowered from £40,000 down to £10,000. Companies will also be able to include staff wage costs as part of their project costs.

Tim Thomas, head of skills and employment policy at The Engineering Employers' Federation (EEF), the UK trade organisation dedicated to the future of manufacturing, said: "We are delighted that this scheme has now been opened to SME employers and that the minimum grant, which a company would need to match with their own money, has been dropped to £10,000. This makes the scheme far more accessible and reflects more realistically the amount many smaller companies may be able to invest in skills and training. It recognises the fact that many SMEs want to do more and provides solid support to help them achieve this."

Employer Ownership website

Images: UTC Sheffield

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