Tuesday, November 10, 2015

News: Skills Bank offers cash boost for upskilling workforce

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Further financial incentives could be made available to businesses to upskill their staff as the Sheffield city region looks to build on its devolution deal and create an employer-led skills system.

As part of previously agreed deals with central government, the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and combined authority are joining with the Government's Skills Funding Agency (SFA) to become responsible for re-commissioning provision for the adult skills budget. It is part of a single skills fund, called The Skills Bank, that will give maximum flexibility for business to obtain the skills they need.

Taking local control of the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE), the region was offered £2.41m for 2015-16 which means that grants of up to £2,450 are available to any South Yorkshire employer with fewer than 100 staff that meets certain criteria.

The city region is also working with the SFA on the spend of the Adult Skills Budget (ASB) across the region. The pot is the main funding received by colleges and training providers for delivery of apprenticeships and up-skilling.

A further £2.7m revenue grant has been offered from the SFA and pilot activity in 2015/16 will test the principals of the SCR's Skills Bank as well as a range of other management activities such as evaluation and stakeholder engagement.

The Skills Bank provides one single entity across the city region and will align public investment to economic growth outcomes, such as job creation. The initiatives are a progression from the Skills Made Easy programme.

One pilot project involves training providers working in partnership with two or more employers based in the SCR applying for a grant of up to £150,000 to deliver training programmes for employees aged 19 and over.

Grants awarded will fund a contribution to the total cost of training provision up to £1,000 per learner with a further payment on progression to further learning. An employer contribution above 25% of the total cost must be made.

Priority sectors have been identified for the funding including advanced manufacturing and materials; logistics; and creative and digital industries.

The total Skills Bank outlined in the devolution deal was expected to be made up of £30.6m from European Structural Investment Funds, £26.27m from local authorities and £21.7m from the Government, all matched with £51.3m from the private sector.

The LEP's Growth Plan set an ambitious target of creating 70,000 new jobs in the region by 2023, and aims for "a city region with a stronger and bigger private sector that can compete in national and global markets." It also included the target for the Skills Bank to support 42,000 qualifications or beneficiaries.

Growth Through Training website
Sheffield City Region LEP website

Images: SCR LEP

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