From education to employment

£60m fund to boost business skills & growth

The second phase of the £60m Growth and Innovation Fund (GIF) was launched by Business Secretary Vince Cable and Skills Minister John Hayes in London today to boost business skills and growth.

The fund will support businesses to develop skills solutions tailored to their own needs, transforming growth in their sector, region or supply chain.

The GIF was first proposed in the Skills for Sustainable Growth strategy in November 2010, and offered targeted help for employer groups to overcome barriers to growth within their sectors and industries.

Following that first round, several improvements have been made to GIF to make it more accessible to potential applicants.

The fund will now be open for business all year round, and proposals can be submitted whenever they arise and are ready to be considered for investment.

Where proposals are identified as meriting GIF co-investment, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) will be available to work alongside the applicant to ensure the projects have the very best chance of fulfilling their promise to make a significant impact on enterprise, jobs and growth.

To make sure that GIF can support businesses in the different ways they work together to secure growth, including in a particular geographical area the eligibility to apply to local enterprise partnerships has been extended.

Cable said: “The Government understands we need to tackle the skills shortages that are holding companies back. Through this fund, we will support employers that take collective action to overcome these barriers, helping to rebalance and grow our economy.

“By putting the employer’s voice at the heart of the process, we will reward inventive approaches to training that deliver real help to get business moving.”

The BIS allocation for the GIF investment fund in 2012-13 is £33m, with comparable levels of investment planned for the following two years.

Some £28m remains available in 2012-13 for further projects and the investment could potentially be doubled to almost £60 million with matched investment from business.

At the launch reception of the GIF funded Hospitality Guild, Hayes said: “Times are tough for many businesses, but I am determined to do all I can to build a skills system that creates opportunity for young people, and puts firms on course for growth.

“Government investment in skills works best for individuals and communities when it responds directly to employers’ needs. Offering a more continuous process will ensure that public money will be able to fund more projects throughout the year, giving business the power to shape training and directly support jobs and growth.”

The funding is already supporting 15 projects across the country to deliver new training to boost innovation and productivity, enable industries to set new professional standards, and supporting new or extended National Skills Academies.

Hayes added: “The Hospitality Guild is a great example of how the GIF can help unify businesses and professional training bodies to raise skills in the sector, and support staff development within both large and smaller players in this industry.”

Martin-Christian Kent, director of the Hospitality Guild, said: “Through the Hospitality Guild, the hospitality industry has a real opportunity to shout about the career opportunities it offers, to demonstrate its passion for skills and its ambition to raise its productivity and professionalism.

“With 1 in 14 people working in the hospitality industry, an area that has been growing despite the economic downturn, the Hospitality Guild will also have a role to play in tackling unemployment through facilitating strong ‘into work’ programmes, apprenticeships and work placements.”

Aastha Gill

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