Tuesday, December 16, 2014

News: SCR devolution deal in detail - Skills and Employment

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The Local Enterprise Partnership's (LEP's) vision for a demand-led, employer-focused skills system can be created thanks to the "devolution deal" agreed with the Government.

Whilst not coming up with any new money, the devolution deal builds on the the city deal signed in 2012 and growth deal secured earlier this year. The city deal included £23.8m over three years for the "Skills Made Easy" programme, and the growth deal included £21.7m over six years to support a £100m "Skills Bank" beginning in 2015/2016. The LEP committed over £30m and with local businesses investing over £50m, the Skills Bank could provide 42,000 qualifications over six years.

The LEP and combined authority are joining with the the Government's Skills Funding Agency to become responsible for re-commissioning provision for the adult skills budget. This includes flexible and responsive provision to learners and employers in the workplace and through classroom learning but not apprenticeships and traineeships. The partnership will start work in January 2015 and run throughout the 2015 Spending Review so that it can start to deliver a revised offer from 2017.

The region's Skills Bank, which gives employers greater purchasing power and control in how government funded training is accessed, is set to be enhanced, integrating it with existing national resources to drive up apprenticeships in the local area. Building on the Skills Made Easy programme and Skills Bank, the city region will have responsibilities over apprenticeship brokerage activities targeted at SMEs.

The SCR is also asking to take control of its share of the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE), the £1,500 available to employers taking on apprentices, so that it can decide to vary the level of financial support available to different types of learner, sizes of business and subject.

The Department for Work and Pensions will also consult with Sheffield city region about the possibility of joint commissioning for the next phase of the Work Programme beginning in 2017. The programme provides support, work experience and training for up to two years to help people find and stay in work. The move is all about giving the Sheffield City Region more tools to help people into employment and a pilot project could also begin next year focusing on improving the outcomes for claimants of Employment and Support Allowance (incapacity benefit).

Images: Sheffield City Region LEP

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