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Flagship Skills Accelerator Programme for Cumbria gets green light

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  • News date: Aug '21
  • News author: holly farragher
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A CUMBRIA FE college and University consortium has been successful in applying to pilot the Government’s flagship Skills Accelerator programme.

The programme, which will run from August 2021 to March 2022, will aim to strengthen relationships and partnerships with employers, allowing employers to provide a clearer idea of the skills needed in the local area.

Chris Nattress, Principal at Lakes College described what this means for Cumbria: “We are delighted that Cumbria has been selected as one of a handful of pilot areas to develop and test innovative ways of ensuring technical education and support for skills is very closely aligned to exactly what employers need to support their operations.

“Success with the pilot will mean better opportunities for skilled and well-paid work for our communities.”

Grant Glendinning, Executive Principal at Carlisle College added: “The Skills Accelerator project offers a genuine opportunity to put our county’s employers at the heart of our training.

“In doing so, we’ll be piloting some really innovative approaches in the months ahead.”

One of only 18 in the country, the consortium, led by Lakes College, and delivered by Furness College, Carlisle College, Kendal College, and the University of Cumbria, will develop and pilot an innovative College Business Centre model, alongside other related activities, that will directly support local employers in developing the skilled employees and apprentices they need to support economic growth for Cumbria.

Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, explained: “By putting employers at the heart of local skills systems, supporting close collaboration between providers, and facilitating direct and dynamic working arrangements between employers and providers, we can transform the way our skills system works.”

Mark Jenkinson, MP for Workington constituency said: “This pilot focusses on the technical skills that businesses require locally – skills that are in demand.

“This is good news for businesses and good news for those looking to enter the workplace as they embark upon their career.”

This programme is a key part of Government reforms set out in the Skills for Jobs White Paper and will tie in closely with a trailblazer in developing Local Skills Improvement Plans for Cumbria, which Cumbria Chamber of Commerce have been successful in securing.

The Skills for Jobs White Paper promises to support further education providers, and people, in providing and gaining the skills needed to improve the country’s economy by putting employers at the centre of the system and investing in higher-level technical qualifications. As well as making sure people can access well-informed careers support.

Kelvin Nash, Principal at Kendal College said: “It’s fantastic news for Cumbria.

“The project will allow stronger partnerships to be built across the county, helping our communities and our employers get the training and skills they need for years to come.”

Furness College Principal and Chief Executive Professor Andrew Wren welcomed the opportunity to be part of the flagship Skills Accelerator programme. He said: “Over the past few years there has been significant growth and investment in industry in Cumbria that demands a workforce with higher level skills.

“In these challenging times, it is vital we work together across the education sector to ensure people have access to the latest and most advanced skills training to meet the needs of businesses in our communities.”

Director of Employer Engagement and Professional Development at the University of Cumbria’s Institute of Business, Industry and Leadership, Ian Sinker said: “Raising aspirations, widening participation and contributing to the social, cultural and economic well-being and prosperity of the region is why the University of Cumbria was established back in 2007.

“I am delighted that Cumbria has been selected to pilot the Skills Accelerator programme and we look forward to working with our FE college partners to deliver this exciting new scheme.”