West Midlands secures £10.3 million to develop skills to boost the regional economy
Published: Friday 24 Nov 2023
The West Midlands has secured over £10m of funding to enable further education colleges and training providers to train local people to land good jobs in new and growing industries in the region.
Led by Solihull College and University Centre, colleges across the region, working with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, will use the money to develop and deliver training that will help residents gain the skills needed to land jobs industries such as electric vehicle and battery technology, sustainable construction, and the creative/gaming sector.
The funding is part of a wider £200m investment from the Department for Education to enable colleges and universities to respond to demands and priorities set out in their area’s local skills improvement plans (LSIP).
The investment will be used to expand the regional electrification and engineering offer, develop skills provision in low carbon/sustainable construction, support the professional development of teachers to embed green skills in all curriculum areas, deliver digital skills training to hard to reach communities and improve employer engagement.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: “A key part of my mayoral mission is to ensure local people have the skills they need to succeed. We’re fortunate to be home to a range of excellent providers offering a remarkable range of provision - which we continue to improve.
“Education providers and partners have been instrumental in the development of our West Midlands Local Skills Improvement Plans and recognise the importance of responding to the needs of learners and employers.
“We welcome this additional funding from the Department for Education which will help bring many of the recommendations from the LSIP to fruition - helping colleges and universities to fulfil their ambitions and take our provision to the next level in the months and years ahead.”
Cllr George Duggins, the WMCA’s portfolio holder for productivity and skills and leader of Coventry City Council, said: “I welcome this £10.3m of Local Skills Improvement Funding (LSIF) to support skills provision and engagement with employers in the region. This localised approach focusing on areas of work that have been identified as needing focus will help drive growth in the local economy.”
Rebecca Gater, principal and chief executive, Solihull College & University Centre, said: “Solihull College & University Centre is delighted to lead on the West Midlands and Warwickshire Local Skills Improvement Fund.
“The further education colleges and training providers in the region are working collaboratively with the WMCA, Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, and the Warwickshire Skills Hub to deliver an integrated response tailored to the specific needs of our local and regional economy.
“The Department of Education’s investment is as a testament to our commitment to enhancing the capabilities of the current and future regional workforce.
“It will support us to upskill the current and future workforce to meet regional skills priorities including electrification and battery technology, sustainable construction and future housing, green skills and digital.
“Funding will enable us to invest in cutting-edge facilities, high quality resources, and equipment that ensures the curriculum we offer meets the needs of employers, improves efficiency and productivity, and equips local people with the skills they need to succeed in current and future careers.”
Corin Crane, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The announcement of £10.6m Local Skills Improvement Funds for the West Midlands & Warwickshire is one of the biggest in the country and great news for local employers. It is also vindication of the brilliant partnership work that is taking place between businesses, providers and the WMCA to make our local skills funding as flexible and focused on economic growth as possible.
“These LSIF funds are a critical part of a bigger picture of devolved skills funding that is changing the face of our regional economy, we now need to make sure as many people as possible engage in this exciting opportunity which will provide much needed funds for the skills and recruitment issues our businesses need to grow and find new markets. Most importantly, this underlines a smart way of delivering skills funding – putting businesses at the start of the process and using innovative ways of delivery, of focus and of engagement.”
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