The national retraining scheme has taken another step forward after the government began searching for “partnerships” to design and test 12 week courses for adults that lead to “guaranteed” job interviews.

A Department for Education tender has gone out for groups of employers, providers and local authorities to deliver “a new training model” initially in the digital sector where there is a skills shortage.

Three contracts are up for grabs, one in each local enterprise partnership area of Leeds City Region, Heart of the South West and D2N2 (Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire).

The “model” is expected to deliver training that “meets employer’s immediate needs in a pre-employment phase, de-risking the recruitment process for them”.

Participants must be adults aged 19 or older who are in work or recently unemployed. The DfE “anticipates” that at least 75 per cent of all trainees will move into a new job or role.

The department confirmed to FE Week that this programme of work is part of their national retraining scheme, which was first promised in June 2017 as a manifesto commitment and has been backed with an initial £100 million by the Treasury.

The first phase of the scheme was rolled out in select areas in July last year with the launch of a new digital service – Get Help to Retrain – that acts as a course and job directory.

Asked about this new tender, the DfE said: “These initiatives build on the extensive user-research and engagement with local areas through the national retraining scheme.

“Building on what we have learnt, we are exploring the effectiveness of employer-led, flexible training initiatives.”

They added that this could also help to inform how the upcoming £2.5 billion national skills fund might work.

The DfE continued: “We are currently talking to a number of local areas, employers and providers to better understand how these initiatives can successfully support local regions and employers to fill skills shortages, by bringing participating individuals closer to better jobs through guaranteed interviews.

“This notice is one way of engaging with potential partners so that it can feed in to the wider development of these initiatives.”

The tender states that the department will “aim to award up to three contracts (one per area) to partner organisations consisting of local employers, digital/ICT training providers, local authorities and the FE sector to evidence digital skills shortage vacancies and design and deliver approximately 12 week training courses to provide a pipeline of individuals to fill those roles (when possible we will expand to include other technical skills)”.

Bids “must” detail the “cash and/or in-kind contribution that employers will make, examples could include work experience or support with CVs, interview skills and other interpersonal skills – we are interested in ideas around this”.

A “successful” bid will show, for example, how employers are represented and leading on what training is delivered; how guaranteed interviews are secured as an outcome; how underrepresented groups and those with “protected characteristics” will be engaged and recruited to the training programmes.

Applications must also show how proposed costs of training are determined, including how costs could be reduced through scaling up, whilst “maintaining quality”; and how training will be delivered “flexibly” around other commitments including work, job seeking and caring.

The funding available to each area will “depend on proposals from bidders”, and it will be calculated on “how many people they would train to meet the demand they have identified”.

Bids are open until August 31. The DfE expects delivery to get underway by January 2021. The tender can be viewed here.

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