The North East is set to benefit from a huge skills training boost, as colleges and universities share a £3.6 million grant 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). 

The Department for Education (DfE) announced £165 million funding from the LSIF to enable collaborations of further education colleges and training providers 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 future-proofing 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.” 

From next year, colleges and other training providers across the region will start to offer these exciting opportunities, which have been specifically aligned to the priority sectors identified by local employers in their Local Skills Improvement Plans. 

Northumberland College and its provider partnership in the North of Tyne area has been awarded funding for the creation of a range of exciting green construction training facilities, with the latest technologies supplied by leading equipment manufacturers of air source heat pumps, photovoltaics and energy storage, to provide hands-on training in sustainable and skilled construction. 

The funding will also enable the development of simulated and immersive learning scenarios, which replicate the reality of working in the construction industry. The investment will boost training in key retrofit skills like replacing gas boilers with greener alternatives. 

Gary Potts, Principal of Northumberland College said: “We are extremely grateful to be receiving this investment from the Department for Education which will help support local people to secure and sustain jobs in the emerging green construction sector. 

“The green construction project will address the short- and long-term skills requirements of employers, linked to specific new and emerging technologies that enable the retrofitting and decarbonisation of properties across the region. Solutions will be co-created with employers to train new entrants to the sector and up-skill and re-skill the current workforce.” 

Sunderland College is part of the Northeast provider partnership led by the North East Automotive Alliance and East Durham College which has been awarded funding to provide opportunities in advanced manufacturing and engineering, construction, digital, health and life science, transport and logistics.  

The LSIP partnership comprises four projects, with the college directing the advanced manufacturing and engineering initiative which will see a new curriculum introduced alongside enhanced collaborative employer engagement that will create a step change in industry skills and knowledge across the region, in line with digital advancements. 

Hartlepool Sixth Form College Campus Principal Jane Reed said: “We are thrilled that the Local Skills Improvement Fund will provide investment in new equipment for use in the delivery of the T Level in Health and other new Health and Social Care curriculum. 

 “The new equipment and resources will support excellence in teaching, to create a sustainable approach to addressing local skills needs in Hartlepool and across the Tees Valley. 

“We welcome more funding for Hartlepool to help learners gain the skills they need to get good jobs and grow the economy.” 

Toni Rhodes, Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form College Principal added: “We are delighted to be working with other Providers in the Sunderland area to collectively address the local skills needs identified through the LSIP, ensuring residents have the skills required to access local jobs.” 

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. 

Innovative projects have given the go ahead, which will support people to gain the skills needed to launch careers in the green sector and support the local economy to grow. 

The investment in local areas announced is just one way the government is boosting skills, alongside a huge range of other high-quality programmes including T levels, free courses for jobs and Skills Bootcamps. 

Why Education Partnership North East (EPNE)?

Highly commended - Employer of the Year, Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards 2019

Engagement with Employers - Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award 2017

(Sunderland College On-programme Survey 2017)

Selected by DfE for 2021 T Level pilot to deliver the new high-quality technical qualifications.

98% overall employer satisfaction - Employer Survey 2018/19