City skills fund is a welcome boost

CITB-ConstructionSkills has welcomed the announcement by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills that £4.5 million is to be made available to boost adult skills in England’s major cities. However, the Skills body warns that industry involvement in funding allocation discussions is critical to the success of the scheme.

Responding to the announcement the Sector Skills Council and Industry’s Training Board’s Chief Executive Mark Farrar said: “I’m delighted that the Government has designated this funding to improving adult skills. This demonstrates a real commitment to the skills agenda, at a time when budgets are still quite stretched, and sends a clear message about its importance more widely.”

Mark went on to say: “While I’m encouraged by the collaborative approach on decisions around funding allocation, it’s vital that the Local Enterprise Partnerships work not only with training providers but also with industry to ensure that business needs are being met. We have been working very closely with LEPs around the country and sharing our industry market intelligence with them to help develop carefully targeted and tailored skills agendas which are demand driven.”

Skills development

Mark continued: “It’s crucial that any funding which is made available is put to the best possible use and allocated to training that will not meet a dead end. It’s not just about skills; it’s about developing the right skills locally and nationally to boost productivity and growth.”

The Government is also encouraging cities to develop hubs which will help small businesses to take on apprentices.

Mr Farrar added: “For many SMEs in construction it’s been difficult to commit to taking on an apprentice, despite a desire to. We have also been working across various initiatives to try and support smaller contractors who are interested in taking on apprentices.

“During National Apprenticeship Week we held a number of meetings and events around the country to let more employers know about the funding and support available to them. We welcome any initiative that can help smaller employers to support apprenticeships and be in a position to benefit from taking on an apprentice to grow their business.”

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