Revealed: Colleges scoop £165m local skills improvement fund

DfE green lights employer-backed skills projects led by colleges

DfE green lights employer-backed skills projects led by colleges

Forty colleges will receive a slice of the government’s £165 million local skills improvement fund. 

Grants ranging from £2.4 million to £10 million have been announced to fund new facilities and the development of new courses to meet skills needs identified in new local skills improvement plans (LSIP).

Bids were headed up by a lead college, but had to be supported by other local providers and have the endorsement of the employer representative body, in most cases a chamber of commerce. 

The fund is split across two financial years; £80 million was made available for this financial year, split equally between revenue and capital. In 2024-25, £85 million is for capital only.

Bidding opened in May after first being proposed in the FE white paper in January 2021.

DfE approved the largest chunk of funding for Solihull College and University Centre and 19 neighbouring colleges, IoTs and universities. Backed by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, £10.3 million has been awarded to address local skills needs in engineering and manufacturing, green construction and digital. 

Wigan and Leigh College and 18 Greater Manchester delivery partners won £8.5 million for projects boosting local skills provision in construction, digital, health and social care, engineering and manufacturing and green skills.

The green skills agenda features across the winning projects. 

For example, MidKent College in Kent will use some of its £5 million to build a new training facility for courses teaching retrofit energy efficiency measures, and renewable and sustainable energy solutions.

The new courses will cover a range of areas including thermal imaging, aerial survey and mapping and will utilise virtual reality capabilities to develop simulated engineering challenges, construction processes and techniques, supporting people to gain the skills needed to launch green careers. 

Simon Cook, principal and chief executive at MidKent College said: “We’re thrilled that construction and building services businesses across Kent & Medway will benefit from this investment in retrofit technology and training.

“We know from our conversations with employers that growing skills for sustainable construction practices and improving the energy efficiency of existing housing stock are priorities for the sector here in the Southeast.”

“We’re incredibly proud that this new facility will work seamlessly with our Home Energy Centre and Sustainable Construction Skills Factory at the heart of our Maidstone campus, and alongside our own efforts to make the campus carbon neutral by 2030.”

Secretary of state for education Gillian Keegan said: “This investment is about boosting local industries, building people’s skills and ultimately future-proofing our economy and the career prospects of the next generation.”

She added: “Our local skills projects will bring together regional organisations, businesses and education providers to respond to the specific needs of employers, building an increasingly skilled workforce and growing local economies.”

Here’s the full funding list:

Winners of the £165 million local skills improvement fund

Lead applicantFunding approvedArea
East Durham College£3,637,178North East
Northumberland College (City of Sunderland College)£2,500,000North of Tyne
Darlington College£2,498,970Tees Valley
Cheshire College South & West£2,500,000Cheshire and Warrington
Lakes College£2,499,989Cumbria
Wigan & Leigh College£8,488,967Greater Manchester
Myerscough College£4,450,145Lancashire
The City of Liverpool College£4,585,513Liverpool City Region
Bishop Burton College£2,499,999Hull and East Yorkshire
Barnsley College£4,257,817South Yorkshire
Calderdale College£6,978,048West Yorkshire
York College£2,500,000York and North Yorkshire
Nottingham College£6,604,099D2N2 (Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire)
TEC Partnership£3,547,293Greater Lincolnshire
Leicester College£3,067,331Leicester and Leicestershire
Milton Keynes College£5,208,930South-East Midlands
Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group£3,231,734Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire
Telford College£2,489,864The Marches
Solihull College and University Centre£10,304,523West Midlands
Kidderminster College (NCG)£2,451,994Worcestershire
Cambridge Regional College£2,498,880Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
Harlow College£5,557,549Essex, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock
West Herts College Group£3,106,962Hertfordshire
Suffolk New College£4,754,381New Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk)
New City College£6,734,535Central London Forward
London South East Colleges£6,540,771Local London
South Thames Colleges Group£1,205,140 
*The funding for this area is not finalised and is subject to change
South London Partnership
Harrow, Richmond and Uxbridge College£4,775,102West London Alliance
Chichester College Group£4,548,009Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, West Sussex
Buckinghamshire College Group£2,457,409Buckinghamshire
Sparsholt College Hampshire£5,984,907Enterprise M3 LEP (including all of Surrey)
MidKent College£5,012,704Kent and Medway
Activate Learning£2,490,813Oxfordshire
Fareham College£2,416,479Solent
Activate Learning£2,495,195Thames Valley Berkshire
Truro and Penwith College£2,500,000Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
Bournemouth & Poole College£2,500,000Dorset
South Gloucestershire and Stroud College£2,500,000G First (Gloucestershire)
Bridgwater & Taunton College £5,061,145Heart of the South-West
Wiltshire College & Univesity Centre£2,500,000Swindon and Wiltshire
West of England Institute of Technology £2,981,196West of England and North Somerset

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