Colleges across Coventry and Warwickshire will receive funding totalling more than £5 million as part of a pilot scheme to reshape technical skills training in the region.
WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group), Coventry College, North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC), and Stratford-upon-Avon College will all receive a slice of the funding after a successful group bid.
The funding will be used to create a Coventry and Warwickshire Strategy for Technical Education and see new facilities and courses created, as well as staff recruited and trained across the colleges to deliver on the strategy.
Coventry and Warwickshire is one of 18 pilot groups for the Skills Accelerator programme, which incorporates the Local Skills Improvement Plan Trailblazers and Strategic Development Fund pilots.
The Skills Accelerator programme is a key part of the Government’s blueprint for reshaping the technical skills system – ensuring educational provision meets the skills demands of the region.
The four colleges across Coventry and Warwickshire will be working with education stakeholders such as the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP, local authorities, and employers to deliver on the region’s skill priorities.
Funding will be used to improve delivery in three key areas including electrification and battery technology, creative, culture and digital, and construction, transport and logistics.
New fit-for-purpose training facilities will also be developed at the colleges to enable stronger delivery for the three sectors.
Lindsey Stewart, Acting Principal for Stratford-upon-Avon College, said: “After the tough time Stratford-upon-Avon has had during the last 18 months, the college is delighted to able to offer an exciting new range of courses in both construction and creative areas. The project will fund state-of-the-art facilities which also encompass the green agenda. The colleges working in partnership will enhance the skills offer while reducing costly duplication.”
Angela Joyce, CEO of WCG, said: “For Coventry and Warwickshire to be named a pilot region for the Skills Accelerator programme is fantastic and is evidence that our region is at the forefront of the national drive to deliver effective technical education.
“For WCG, the funding will allow us to expand our delivery in vital sectors including electrification and battery technology, and construction, transport and logistics – areas that will be drivers for the bright future of our region.
“A collaborative approach is important to help bridge the skills gap and this funding will be used to create an effective region-wide strategy.”
Carol Thomas, Coventry College Principal and CEO, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating strategically with further education colleges across the Coventry and Warwickshire region to ensure regional skills priorities are delivered to benefit our residents and the local economy.
“Coventry is an ambitious City with key industrial strengths and this funding will enable our College to further support businesses with the skills they need in electrification, retrofit and digital.”
Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Principal and Chief Executive of North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, added, “This investment will help us to build on the work we have already initiated to support automotive industry skills at our MIRA Technology Institute campus, and logistics skills through our collaboration with GLP, Wincanton and Aston University at the Centre for Logistics Education and Research (CLEAR) at the heart of Magna Park Distribution Centre.
“It will reinforce our ability to deliver in-demand skills so urgently needed by the digital sector as we work towards the development of a new Digital Skills and Innovation Centre in Nuneaton town centre, alongside our current Digital Skills Academy based in Coventry.”
The bid was supported by Louise Bennett, chief executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.
Louise said: “One of the key issues that is raised with us by members time and again is the need for the right people, with the right skills to help businesses grow.
“We are delighted, therefore, that Coventry and Warwickshire has been chosen as a pilot area for the Skills Accelerator Programme, working with our brilliant FE colleges across the region.
“This is a chance to shape skills provision that is tailored to the economic needs of the region and to help businesses recruit for the roles they need to be able to expand at the same time as helping people to develop the skills they need for a great career.”