Boosting the nation’s skills is at the very heart of our plans to make sure more people have the opportunity to secure a good, well-paid jobs that are closer to where they live.
That’s why we are investing millions through the Strategic Development Fund (SDF) so that young people and adults have access to the high-quality technical training they need to secure rewarding careers and local business can tap into the skilled workforce they need for the future.
Investment through the fund is already having a huge impact up and down the country, having supported a range of projects that will boost skills and help us seize the opportunities presented by a number of booming industries including green, digital and healthcare.
What is the Strategic Development Fund?
The fund was launched in 2021 to help colleges and further education providers to transform their facilities and offer high quality technical training that better meet the needs of local employers and boost job opportunities for their communities.
This means local businesses have access to the home-grown talent they need for the jobs of tomorrow and more people don’t need to leave their hometowns to get a good job.
How is this fund helping to boost skills and jobs in my local area?
Last year, £65 million was invested to support exciting projects across 18 areas of England all focused on boosting the skills which businesses tell us are crucial to their needs and will help get more people into good jobs.
This includes Coventry College which has opened a new digital media, gaming and esports hub with specialist esports training and competition rooms to provide young people across the region with the IT, marketing, and entrepreneurial skills they need to progress in this fast-growing and competitive industry.
Milton Keynes College has developed a skills hub where young people can work side-by-side with industry experts to advise local businesses on how to use artificial intelligence and keep pace with developments in their sector.
In the South East, a group of colleges have invested in an electric vehicle project.
Damian Richards, lecturer in electric vehicles at East Sussex College Group, said:
“This project has funded us to have some absolutely excellent equipment and it’s allowed us to introduce electric vehicles and hybrid servicing, maintenance, and repair into our curriculum.
“One of the main things we’ve also managed to obtain is some staff training and industry links and collaborations with other colleges that have really helped us and will enable us to actually deliver the electric vehicle and hybrid programmes from now and into the future.”
In Darlington, the fund has been used to develop a robotics arm and an automated manufacturing production line to support industries in the Teesside region.
Kate Roe, Principal of Darlington College, said:
“We feel extremely proud to be at the cutting edge of new robotics technology in the Tees Valley and to be helping develop qualifications for learners that will be relevant to our changing world as well as providing our economy with a workforce fit for the needs of modern industry.
“Without the funds awarded by the SDF project we would have been unable to develop the facilities required in such a short time frame. The funds have come at the perfect time for the college when the country is struggling to find skilled labour and the Government is moving six main departments to Darlington, including the Treasury.”
This year the fund is supporting even more exciting projects. £92 million is being invested to support 41 areas invest in cutting-edge fields as diverse as advanced manufacturing, health, social care and green transport providing a critical skills boost that will benefit employers, individuals, and the wider economy.
What else are you doing to improve skills?
We are transforming the skills landscape. This includes working with employers to create more apprenticeship opportunities, rolling out new T Levels, establishing a network of Institutes of Technology and introducing a range of reforms through the new Skills Act so everyone has the chance to make the most of their potential.
To make sure the training on offer meets the needs of local communities we are also making sure employers work with colleges and training providers to create local skills plans. These plans, led by local employer organisations, are now being rolled out across the country opening up more opportunities for people to gain the skills they and businesses need to succeed.