The UKCES announces £61m investment in employer led projects

More than £61 million will be invested in 63 projects to drive employer investment in skills across all the UK, it was announced today.

The investment, provided through the Employer Investment Fund administered by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), will support 18 Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) with employer designed and led skills solutions.

The UKCES received 109 proposals into the fund totalling more than £119m, but following a rigorous assessment process, Commissioners chose 63 of the best solutions “with the greatest potential” to drive growth and employer investment in skills. 

The investments will be across a range of sectors including manufacturing which will receive almost £15m; the service sector which will receive almost £16m and the creative and digital sector which will receive over £13m. Funding will start in April 2012 and last until March 2014.

The UKCES say that “as a direct result of being able to demonstrate strong employer leadership and how to address the skills issues constraining the growth of their sector, the most successful SSCs have secured investment levels more than twice that which would have been anticipated through traditional grant funding”.

Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and the UKCES, said: “Over the past two decades governments of all hues have driven reform and expansion of the country’s vocational skills system, with some notable successes.

“But the fact is we’ve become less competitive globally on skills, and for many employers the ‘system’ is just too complex.

“The answer lies in moving away from grant funding to investing in employer led skills solutions, building the capacity and capability for employers to take ownership of the skills agenda.

“By working within their supply chains, through business clusters, and with unions, colleges and training providers they can develop the skills they need. That is what this funding is intended to promote.

“It comes at a critical time for the UK economy and will place skills firmly within the growth agenda – giving employers greater ownership of skills, as a vital source of competitive advantage.”

Minister for further education, skills and lifelong learning John Hayes added: “We’re putting power back into the hands of businesses so we can build a skills system that will drive an increasingly dynamic economy.

“With the opening of round two of the Growth and Innovation Fund (revealed by FE Week yesterday), the announcement of the Employer Ownership pilot and the announcement of successful Employer Investment Fund projects, there is now up to £370 million of funding devoted to support employer led skills solutions.

“This will secure greater commitment from employers to invest in skills and support business to achieve their growth potential.”