The North East is set to benefit from a huge skills training boost, as colleges and universities share a £3.6 million pot through the Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF), focused on the skills requirements of businesses located in Sunderland, Gateshead, South Tyneside and County Durham identified in the North East Local Skills Improvement Plan (NELSIP).

On Friday 10 November, the Department for Education (DfE) announced £165 million funding from the LSIF to enable collaborations of further education colleges and training providers to meet specific regional skills needs identified in the Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs). The announcement was part of a £200 million funding boost to support local areas to offer more high-quality training opportunities to meet local skills needs. This is part of a government drive to level up the country, get more people into good jobs close to home, plug skills gaps and grow the economy. 

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: “This investment is about boosting local industries, building people’s skills and ultimately futureproofing our economy and the career prospects of the next generation. 

“Our local skills projects will bring together regional organisations, businesses and education providers to respond to the specific needs of employers, building an increasingly skilled workforce and growing local economies. Whether it is green skills, construction, engineering or digital, thousands more people can now gain the skills they need to secure good jobs closer to home. These are long-term plans that will ensure every area can have a brighter future.”

“As a result of this funding, people across the country are set to benefit from more skills training to help them launch careers in key industries, including in the growing green sector.”

The North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) was commissioned to lead work to develop the NELSIP, which sets out the key changes needed to ensure post-16 technical education and training is responsive to the needs of employers in the region. The NELSIP report identified six priorities which included providing essential digital skills, aligning 16-plus technical education and training provision, increasing the supply of level 3+ technical skills, collaborating to deliver key technical skills for regional growth, ensuring employer focus and prioritising social inclusion. The report was approved and published in August.

East Durham ƵAPP will lead on the North East LSIF and will be supported by several other colleges, independent training providers and one university in the region. Sunderland ƵAPP will lead on advanced manufacturing, Gateshead ƵAPP will lead digital, East Durham ƵAPP will lead health science and New ƵAPP Durham will lead on construction. In addition, independent training providers NA ƵAPP and Learning Curve will support alongside Sunderland University.

The LSIF, which is a two year programme until 2025, will provide investment in new facilities and equipment, fund the development and delivery of new courses and curriculum, and support excellence in college leadership, governance and teaching to create a sustainable approach to addressing local skill needs. 

Andy Broadbent, Principal and Chief Executive at New ƵAPP Durham commented, "New ƵAPP Durham is proud to lead on construction as part of the North East Local Skills Improvement Plan. This investment will contribute to building an increasingly skilled workforce that meets the demands of the local economy. Together with our partners, we are excited to play a key role in shaping the future of skills development in the North East." 

The funding will enable East Durham ƵAPP and its provider partnership to address the shortage of technicians in advanced manufacturing; ensuring the region is using the latest and emerging technology in its training facilities. The funding will also enable the development of simulated and immersive learning environments in health science, which will enable students to access their learning from anywhere in the country. The investment in practical resources across the region will provide training aligned to skills needs and volumes required by employers.

Suzanne Duncan, Principal and Chief Executive at East Durham ƵAPP, said: “We are delighted to be receiving this investment from DfE on behalf of the region. The funding will support local people to secure and sustain better jobs in the key priority sectors identified in the North East Local Skills Improvement Plan.” 

“The four projects will address some key skills priorities and further build on the fantastic work already undertaken in the region in developing health science, advanced manufacturing, construction and digital training.”

Paul Butler, chief executive at the NEAA said: “This industry-led initiative is a vital step in ensuring that education and training are better aligned with industry needs to safeguard and grow our economy. The NEAA was commissioned by DfE to deliver the NELSIP report and worked closely with other sector-specific employer representative bodies across the South of Tyne region. We conducted a huge amount of direct engagement with employers to ensure their voice was heard.

“I’m delighted that the local skills improvement fund has now been released to enable local colleges, universities and training providers to deliver against our employer-informed NELSIP. Through the NELSIP, North East LSIF and the transition to a Mayoral Combined Authority we have a perfect opportunity to finally create the right eco-system to ensure the future skills needs of businesses are understood and provided for. The NEAA look forward to continued engagement throughout this two-year process.”

More detail is here and attached: