Ministers re-open £60m fund to boost business skills & growth

BIS will be providing £34 million for 2012-13 and there is still £29 million available to bid for. With matched funding from businesses there will be around £60 million available under GIF this year. Comparable levels of investment are planned for the following two years.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The Government understands we need to tackle the skills shortages that are holding companies back. Through this fund, we will support employers that take collective action to overcome these barriers, helping to rebalance and grow our economy.
“By putting the employer’s voice at the heart of the process, we will reward inventive approaches to training that deliver real help to get business moving.”
Minister John Hayes also announced that this year the Government would be accepting applications throughout the year, ensuring projects could be approved at several points in 2012, rather than having one annual round.
Hayes said: “I know times are tough for many businesses, but I am determined to do all I can to build a skills system that creates opportunity for young people, and puts firms on course for growth.
“Government investment in skills works best for individuals and communities when it responds directly to employers’ needs. Offering a more continuous process will ensure that public money will be able to fund more projects throughout the year, giving business the power to shape training and directly support jobs and growth.
The Growth and Innovation Fund offers targeted help for employer groups to overcome barriers to growth within their sectors and industries. The funding is already supporting 15 projects across the country deliver new training to boost innovation and productivity, enable industries to set new professional standards, or support new or extended National Skills Academies.
Geoff Russell, Chief Executive of the Skills Funding Agency said: “We look forward to working with employers and their representative organisations to find innovative and sustainable solutions to tackle skills gaps in their sectors. The Growth and Innovation Fund will secure a greater commitment from employers to invest in the skills they need, so creating jobs and Apprenticeships, driving enterprise and increasing their overall productivity in support of the growth agenda.”
Following that first round several improvements have been made to GIF to make it more accessible to potential applicants. GIF will now open for business all year round, meaning proposals can be submitted whenever they arise and are ready to be considered for investment.
Where proposals are identified as meriting GIF co-investment the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) will be available to work alongside the applicant to ensure the projects have the very best chance of fulfilling their promise to make a significant impact on enterprise, jobs and growth.