Skills reform

DfE launches £165m local skills improvement fund

Pot available for initiatives that 'respond to specific priorities' identified in LSIPs

Pot available for initiatives that 'respond to specific priorities' identified in LSIPs

Colleges and providers are being invited to bid for a slice of a £165 million fund designed for initiatives that “respond to the specific priorities” identified in each area’s local skills improvement plan.

The Department for Education today launched the local skills improvement fund (LSIF) that aims to help “plug local skills gaps” and “get more people into jobs closer to home”.

Further education providers can use the cash to “renovate facilities with up-to-date equipment, help to upskill teachers, and deliver new courses in key subjects such as green construction, carbon capture and cyber security”, according to a DfE press release.

Minister for skills, apprenticeships and higher education Robert Halfon said: “Building a world-class skills and apprenticeships nation means listening to the specific needs of local people, businesses, and institutions.  

“This funding will revolutionise how we plug local skills gaps and provide a boost to the economy.”

Successful applicants will receive funding to invest in projects linked to priorities that have come out the employer-led local skills improvement plan (LSIP) for their area.

First proposed in the FE white paper in January 2021, the plans aim to make colleges and training providers align the courses they offer to local employers’ needs.

The plans have been created by employer representative bodies – mostly local chambers of commerce – in every region of the country.

Final LSIPs will not be submitted by the employer representative body for each area until May 31 and published in summer 2023. But DfE guidance said providers can use the draft plan priorities, which were shared with them on March 31, to develop their LSIF application.

The LSIF is the successor to a previous pot of cash called the strategic development fund (SDF), which was worth £157 million for the FE sector to invest in the equipment and facilities in areas such as electric and hybrid vehicle maintenance, automation and artificial intelligence.

Results of the bids to the new LSIF are expected to be announced by the DfE in October 2023.

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