From education to employment

Funding boost for skills projects in Berkshire

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Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has announced that £2.1m of funding has been allocated to four projects in from Government’s Getting Building Fund. The LEP is committed to ensuring that investment in skills capital projects helps to address the skills challenges faced by local businesses now and in the future.

Alison Webster, CEO of Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Our 2022 Skills Report identified key areas where we believe investment should be prioritised in order to grow the economy, raise productivity and improve the wellbeing of residents. It draws on a wide range of published and new evidence and is set in the context of a rapidly evolving national skills system. These Getting Building Fund projects aim to create new jobs and opportunities for training and providing facilities for education.”

The LEP’s Recovery & Renewal Plan states that increasing workforce skills will see Berkshire through the Covid-19 pandemic and out the other side. Skilling up the local population will make Berkshire more resilient to the impact of future trends such as an ageing population or the increasing automation of jobs. 

Alison continued, “Two of the current threats facing employers in Berkshire are skills and labour shortages and we are committed to ensuring that we can support and promote sectors such as hospitality and the creative sector who are being particularly impacted. One of the ways we are doing this is by ensuring that learners have access to high quality learning environments that supports the delivery of the skills our local employers need.

“Whilst Berkshire has a good record of employment in knowledge and science-based industries and business and professional services, some sectors such as social care and hospitality continue to face  skills and labour shortages.  We need to support a resilient mix of skills and industries to allow us to adapt to the post-Covid landscape.”

Becky Lawson, Managing Director of Ways Into Work said: “We are so excited to be launching this project in partnership with New Directions College. The café will not only provide job and training opportunities for people with disabilities and other barriers to work, acting as a recruitment pipeline for other hospitality businesses in the area; it will also be our “show home”. It will be demonstrating what real diversity in the workforce looks like, challenging perceptions about what people are capable of and acting as a tool to engage other employers in working with us, creating further job opportunities. We can’t wait to get started!”

The four successful Getting Building Fund allocations are:

Activate Creative Industries Skills Centre This project will create an industry standard Creative Industries Skills Centre at Reading College to support our growing creative sector. The project is directly aligned to the introduction of the new T Level in Media, Broadcast and Production being launched nationally and at Reading College in September 2023.

Activate Employability Hub -This project will create an employability hub space at Reading College to support local residents to find work, gain new skills or retrain.

Supported Employment Café -A new café in Reading that will not only create jobs and development opportunities for individuals with Special Educational needs and disabilities but also demonstrate what real diversity in the workforce looks like, and challenge perceptions.

Langley College Green Skills Academy This project will provide dedicated facilities including demonstration models and equipment to offer industry standard training in new environmental technologies including renewable energy and sustainable construction. 

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