Carlisle College lands £8.5million project to boost Cumbrian Economy

Carlisle College has been awarded £8.5m in funding to support Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) vision for Cumbria to have one of the fastest growing economies in the UK by raising skills levels and reducing skills gaps.

The project will offer funded training opportunities, focusing on workforce development within Cumbrian small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as offering additional support to recruit apprentices via an impartial brokerage service.

The project, which will run to March 2018, has been funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) via the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and Cumbria LEP.

This award to Carlisle College follows the previous ESF Skills Support for the Workforce and Local Response Fund projects that the College led under ‘The Edge’ banner between 2013 and 2015.  The collaborative partnership included 15 delivery partners from across Cumbria.  The project was hailed a resounding success, delivering training to over 3,000 individuals from 900 businesses across the county.  The project was noted for how responsive it was to the needs of business, offering a diverse range of training from dry stone walling to safe and fuel efficient driving to leadership and management.

Once again Carlisle College will lead a consortium of key partners who will work together at a strategic level to ensure the projects success. These key partners include: The University of Cumbria, Furness College, Kendal College, Lakes College, Newton Rigg,  Cumbria Business Growth Hub, Gen2 and SP Training.

The project will provide individuals with opportunities to develop the skills that will enable them to progress in employment.  Whilst at the same time it will support employers to take on and develop individuals to fill intermediate, technical and higher level skills gaps and shortages to enable growth.

Provision is also available to support businesses which are undergoing industrial restructuring by providing skills and employability support for their employees at risk of redundancy whilst also supporting SMEs affected by staff attrition to major infrastructure schemes.

In order to deliver a highly responsive programme that is tailored to the needs of business, eight employer panels will be set up in priority sectors to ensure employers are involved in directing and shaping the training services that are provided.

Finally, in order to promote and support the take up of apprenticeship opportunities in the county an impartial brokerage service will be created for businesses with the aim of simplifying the recruitment of apprentices.

Zoe Makepeace, Assistant Director at Carlisle College with responsibility for the management of the new contract, said, ”This is a huge achievement for Carlisle College, we believe it to be the biggest ESF contract ever awarded in Cumbria. We have an excellent track record of managing and delivering skills provision, supported by successful local partnership arrangements.  To be able to provide funded training to those in work is a massive business growth opportunity for the county and we now look forward to working with employers to maximise the benefits.

George Beveridge, Chair of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, said, “SME and business growth in the county is underpinned by the right skills and qualifications for the local workforce. More funded training and apprenticeship opportunities offered through projects such as this help local people gain the qualifications they need to access new jobs, as well as providing businesses with appropriately skilled staff.

“In line with the Skills Investment Plan, our aim is to help the county ‘upskill’ the local workforce to meet future employment needs with more home grown talent. Employer panels are a key part of ensuring that skills training provision meets employers’ needs, so look out for opportunities to get involved. Working with partners like Carlisle College in this way helps to ensure that Cumbria is in a much stronger position to fill the many thousands of projected new jobs coming on stream here in the coming years.”

the_edge_black_strapline_p186Carlisle College

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