From education to employment

Regional Development Agency’s Skills Programme Receives Funding Boost

The acclaimed skills training programme in Yorkshire is to benefit from a timely funding fillip, it was announced this week.

Skills for Key Clusters programme is to receive a further £8 million, which funding will go mainly to support the development of skills within Healthcare and Environmental Technologies industries. The funding will also target enhancing existing skills development projects in other key local industries. The programme has already seen a hugely beneficial link ““ up between Yorkshire Forward – the regional development agency ““ and software giants Microsoft.

Healthcare and Environmental Development

The development agency are committed to improving the economic outlook for the region, and this skills development programme is seen as an integral part of this process. Yorkshire Forward has determined that Healthcare and Environmental technologies will prove to be key emerging industries within the region, hence the decision to target the funding mainly at these industries.

Some discussions still have to take place to determine the exact projects that the funding will help to support. However, some of the potential areas that may benefit include; developing skills that will help companies comply with new legislation on the disposal of waste and alternative technologies to landfill sites, and facilitating programmes that will ensure healthcare companies in the region have the skills to remain at the cutting edge of new technologies.

Building on ICT Progress

The skills shortage in Yorkshire is as serious as it is across the country. A recent study of the agricultural sector, for instance, revealed that whilst up to 80% of jobs on the land will require a minimum Level Three skills level within a few years, at present less than half of the workforce has that level of skills. The skills gap is being met on a national scale by the various agenda issued by the Government through the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), the latter particularly involved in adult education and continuing education.

The ICT sector has already benefited from a stage of funding, and it is hoped that the second stage will build on this success. One of the achievements in the first stage of funding was the programme designed to ensure teachers and tutors of industry standard ICT packages are suitably qualified. The programme is known as ICT Vendor Skills and was so popular that a memorandum was signed with Microsoft, in 2004 agreeing to look at how Microsoft’s skills funding could be aligned with Yorkshire’s regional priorities.

This initiative comes alongside similar relationships that the agency enjoy with other major vendors such as Apple, Cisco and Sun systems. Since receiving £2.8 million of support as part of the original £22 million allocation made by Yorkshire Forward, the ICT Vendor Skills Programme has been a huge success. The programme has created more than 2,000 learning opportunities within the region, helping individuals to develop their ICT abilities and improve their employability, all the while ensuring that employers can benefit from employees with the skills that the employer requires.

Supporting Continuing Success

The agency’s Head of Skills and Inclusion, Helen Thomson, took the opportunity to look back over the achievements already enjoyed, saying: “The skills for key clusters programme has already enjoyed great success over the last three years, providing valuable development opportunities for the regions key industries.”

She also highlighted the work ahead and remains confident of the continuing development and success of the programme: “This new funding programme will ensure that this success can be built upon and support the growth of these emergent industries, whilst also supporting the continued success of our existing skills for key clusters activities.”

Jethro Marsh

So these are the first two stages”¦what next? Tell us in the FE Blog

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