Apply to become a Local Skills Improvement Plan trailblazer or Strategic Development Fund pilot as part of the Skills Accelerator.

We are currently taking expressions of interest in:

Overview

The Skills for Jobs white paper set out the government’s blueprint for reshaping the technical skills system to better support the needs of the local labour market and the wider economy.

Skills Accelerator is a core part of delivering this vision. It incorporates the:

  • Local Skills Improvement Plan trailblazers
  • Strategic Development Fund pilots

What Skills Accelerator is

Skills Accelerator will help:

  • deliver an evidence-based assessment of priority skills needs aligned to local strategies
  • providers to strengthen relationships and partnerships with employers
  • transform the responsiveness of local skills systems in meeting the changing skills needs of employers
  • employers give providers a clearer indication of the skills needed in the local area
  • empower providers to develop the infrastructure to deliver the right skills when and where they are needed
  • create a policy framework of incentives and accountability

For more information about Skills Accelerator, our approach or the policy context, see the application guidance (PDF, 401KB, 48 pages).

Local Skills Improvement Plan trailblazers

Local Skills Improvement Plans will be piloted in a group of trailblazer areas in 2021 to 2022. They will be led by established employer representative bodies.

Local Skills Improvement Plans will help:

  • bring employers, colleges and other providers, and local stakeholders together
  • set out the key changes needed to make technical skills training more responsive to employers’ skills need
  • tailor provision to the challenges and opportunities most relevant to the local area

Who can apply

We want to start by piloting Local Skills Improvement Plans in 6 to 8 trailblazer local areas.

To be considered for selection as a Local Skills Improvement Plan trailblazer, applications must be led by an established employer representative body.

Lead applicants will need to confirm that:

  • the majority of their memberships are businesses
  • the employer representative body is accountable to its members

We do not consider Mayoral Combined Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and Skills Advisory Panels to be business representative organisations so they are not eligible.

Funding

£4 million revenue funding is available to support Local Skills Improvement Plan trailblazers in 2021 to 2022.

Successful trailblazer employer representative bodies will be able to apply for a share of the fund to:

  • build their capacity to deliver Local Skills Improvement Plans
  • support the development of Local Skills Improvement Plans

An application form and full guidance will be issued to successful trailblazers.

Become a Local Skills Improvement Plan trailblazer

  1. Read the application guidance (PDF, 401KB, 48 pages).

  2. Register to use our e-tendering portal Jaggaer to submit any questions.

  3. Join the online event where prospective bidders can find out more about the Skills Accelerator on Tuesday 27 April.

  4. Complete your expression of interest using the Local Skills Improvement Plan trailblazer application form (MS Word Document, 80.3KB).

  5. Email your expression of interest to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by midday on 25 May 2021.

Expressions of interest may be submitted:

  • aligned to a Strategic Development Fund pilot application
  • as a standalone trailblazer application

Successful applicants will then be invited to submit an application for Local Skills Improvement Plan development funding.

Strategic Development Fund pilots

The Strategic Development Fund will explore how providers can work together more effectively, alongside employers and other partners, to respond to local skills and innovation priorities. This includes those identified by Local Skills Improvement Plans.

The pilots will run in a number of areas of the country, including areas that do not have a Local Skills Improvement Plan trailblazer.

In trailblazer areas, the Strategic Development Fund pilot will run alongside the development of the Local Skills Improvement Plan.

The pilots will help:

  • support the development of a high-value curriculum offer in support of longer-term skills priorities
  • enable better and more efficient use of the existing facilities and investment in further education (FE)
  • strengthen the relationship with employers
  • us to understand how development funding can help prioritise change in local planning

Who can apply

We are looking for 12 to 16 areas to pilot the fund.

Applications may be made by groups of colleges and providers. It must be submitted by a lead applicant.

Eligible providers include:

  • general FE colleges (including specialist colleges, for example, land-based)
  • institutions that have been designated as being part of the FE sector
  • Institutes of Technology
  • sixth form colleges
  • independent training providers (including employer independent training providers and group training associations)
  • higher education providers delivering level 4 and 5 provision and higher-level apprenticeships
  • local authority providers
  • schools with sixth forms
  • university technology colleges

Funding

£65 million grant funding is being made available through the Strategic Development Fund. This consists of:

  • £38 million capital
  • £27 million revenue

We expect the Strategic Development Fund to fund a range of activities that:

  • have immediate benefit, for example, new and innovative provision or new services to employers and learners that:
    • are delivered before the end of March 2022
    • encourage further development in subsequent years
  • build capacity to respond to local priorities through provision and services, including through investment in new or upgraded facilities and equipment

Further details of what the fund can support are in the application guidance (PDF, 401KB, 48 pages).

Apply to become a Strategic Development Fund pilot

  1. Read the application guidance (PDF, 401KB, 48 pages).

  2. Register to use our e-tendering portal Jaggaer to submit any questions.

  3. Join the online event where prospective bidders can find out more about the Skills Accelerator on Tuesday 27 April.

  4. Complete your expression of interest using the Strategic Development Fund application form (MS Word Document, 108KB).

  5. Email your expression of interest to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by midday on 25 May 2021.

All lead applicants will receive an email informing them of the outcome of their application.

Those selected as Strategic Development Fund pilots will need to submit more detailed information on the specifications and costs of the projects contained in their proposal. Further information about this will be provided to the lead applicant of the successful pilot areas.

Contact

Questions relating to an application must be submitted through Jaggaer.

For general enquiries about either pilot email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published 20 April 2021 Contents