More than half a dozen further education (FE) colleges will benefit from government funding for 19,000 new higher apprenticeships.

The successful bids, unveiled by Business Secretary Vince Cable in Cornwall last week, will be funded by £18.7 million of the Higher Apprenticeship Fund (HAF), worth £25 million in total.

They will be in sectors such as advanced engineering, construction and financial services.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Investing in skills is central to our drive to boost business and productivity and make the UK more competitive.

“By radically expanding the number of degree level apprenticeships for young people, we will put practical learning on a level footing with academic study.

“This is an essential step that will help rebalance our economy and build a society in which opportunity and reward are fairly and productively distributed.”

The government will invest £17 million in nineteen partnerships between training providers and employers, as well as an additional £1.7 million being invested into two new ‘Trailblazer’ projects in industries such as science, manufacturing and engineering.

Among the successful bidders were eight FE institutions; City of Bristol College, Babington Business College, Chesterfield College, Hull College, Leeds College of Building, Newcastle College Group, North West Kent College and the Peter Jones Academy for Enterprise.

City of Bristol College will be offering 600 higher apprenticeships from level 4, equivalent to the first year of a degree course, up to level 6, equivalent to a full honours degree, in partnership with local firms such as Airbus and Bristol Media.

The Peter Jones Academy for Enterprise will create 1,020 level 5 apprenticeships, enabling learners at level 3 to enter senior business development roles at employers such as Orange, T-Mobile and Jaguar Land Rover.

Newcastle College Group (NCG) will be developing 120 high level apprenticeships in energy engineering with specialist companies such as Bell Valves and Shepherd Offshore.

Skills Minister John Hayes said: “By reviving apprenticeships the Government has started to build a world class skills system to rival our country’s great reputation for academic excellence.

“We’ve driven up quality across the board, more than doubled the number of new advanced apprenticeships, created new routes into higher levels of practical learning and given employers more control of how the training budget is spent.

“We’re now targeting resources even more closely on the skills, firms and sectors that will lead economic recovery.”

A second round of bids will be opened in early 2012 and focus on further areas needed to support economic growth.

(Read the full press release here)

What colleges are saying:

Derek Whitehead, Deputy Principal at Leeds College of Building, said: “The College is honoured to be approved as a lead partner on this exciting Higher Apprenticeship initiative. It will help support both employers and learners within the construction industry to access work based learning at a higher level and will be a viable alternative to full-time university study. Partners and employers nationally are extremely supportive of this project.”

Debra Gray, Assistant Principal for Curriculum Development and Delivery at Chesterfield College, said:“We’re absolutely delighted to be at the forefront of Higher Apprenticeships. We have a long history of Apprenticeships success, particularly in Emergency Care, and the Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship will build on this established model. The higher level qualification will match industry standards and provides learners with valuable experience via our strong links with both private and NHS ambulance services. The new qualification will leave learners ready for active work in Emergency Care and we’re pleased to offer this new practical, high level skills route into the industry.”

Dr Elaine McMahon CBE, Chief Executive and Principal of Hull College, said: “Higher Apprenticeships have much to offer. They will provide exciting new employment opportunities, progression options and higher earning potential for apprentices, while at the same time supporting employers to develop higher skills within their workforce and increase productivity and innovation that will boost the economy. The Higher Apprenticeship Fund programme will play a key role in restoring economic growth. Strong education and business partnerships will be a key feature of Higher Apprenticeships – this is exemplified in our approach and the decision to launch the first new programmes from TNT’s Headquarters.”

Robin Ghurbhurun, Deputy Principal at Newcastle College, said: “We are delighted to have been successful in our bid to develop a Higher Level Apprenticeship in Energy Engineering. This news cements our position as one of the leading providers of apprenticeships in the north east and is testament to the strong commitment that employers have for higher level skills. Through the development of this qualification we will be able to address skills shortages in the region and support the growth of the north east as a hub for the energy sector.”

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