Consortiums of colleges, businesses and employer representative bodies that failed to win “skills accelerator” funding earlier this year can now bid for an alternative pilot project.
Up to £50,000 is available per group that unsuccessfully applied for the two accelerator initiatives – local skills improvement plans (LSIPs) and the strategic development fund (SDF).
Only one bid per pilot area will be successful in this new project, which has been named the “skills accelerator progression fund”.
A briefing document published by the Department for Education states that the new fund is for consortiums to “maintain and further develop collaboration between providers, local employers and representative bodies to better meet local skills priorities”.
LSIPs and the SDF were first mooted in this year’s FE white paper. Winners were announced on 15 July. The improvement plans are being led by chambers of commerce and will aim to make colleges better align the courses they offer to local employers’ needs.
The DfE said the “skills accelerator progression fund” will pay for activities such as:
▪ Contributing to staff costs that further meaningful collaboration
▪ One or more small scale collaborative projects
▪ Events that foster and further collaboration on local skills priorities and transformational activity.
These could include:
▪ A formalised infrastructure to foster collaboration.
▪ Stronger relationships between employers and providers to address local priorities.
▪ Identification of the key building blocks to support change in provision to align with agreed priorities.
▪ Identification of, and removal of barriers to collaboration.
Establishing a “college business centre”, which the SDF can be used for, is not within the scope of the new fund.
However, the DfE said, funding “can be used to foster more effective engagement between colleges and employers in priority sectors to support local businesses to increase levels of innovation and productivity”.
In their bids, applicants are told to describe the “specific activity the funding will be used for, and how it will maintain and advance collaboration, and what outputs and outcomes will result”.
They should also “set out how you will monitor the spend and capture outcomes”.
Bids for the fund opened last week and will close on 31 October. Applications should be submitted to Skills.ACCELERATOR@education.gov.uk.