Jeff Cuthbert, Wales’ deputy minister for skills, announced a £30m fund to extend a government scheme supporting the creation of 3,000 jobs over the next three years.
After being awarded £17m from the European Social Fund to match new money provided by the Welsh Government, Skills Growth Wales, which heavily focuses on supporting the manufacturing sector, will be re-launched with immediate effect.
The existing scheme, which supported 90 companies to train over 8,000 employees, closed to new applications at the end of March 2011, when all available funding had been committed.
The extended programme will provide training support until 31 March 2015 to help a further 200 companies achieve their growth plans, supporting the creation of up to 3,000 extra jobs in Wales.
Mr Cuthbert made the announcement during his visit to TES Aviation Group, Bridgend, who are benefitted from £228,935 under the first Skills Growth Wales programme.
The deputy minister for skills said that Skills Growth Wales is highly regarded by the private sector after success in encouraging growth and creating new employment opportunities.
“Since the scheme was closed to new applications in March, I have received calls from businesses and their representative bodies for the re-introduction of Skills Growth Wales to support plans for growth in the private sector,” said Cuthbert.
“I am delighted that we are now able to extend this successful scheme for another three years after the support of European funding.
With high unemployment levels, job creation was a prime concern when refining the current scheme. Cuthbert said that “a targeted approach has been developed to identify key businesses in priority sectors, which have a credible plan for growth leading to the creation of employment opportunities.”
Ashley Cooper, CEO of TES Aviation Group, responded: “Skills Growth Wales funding has meant that we have been able to implement our aggressive growth plans with the confidence that recruitment of new staff would be backed by the required level of both role specific skills and leadership development training.
“It has been an exciting and challenging growth year for the TES business, and we are planning for more growth next year. Skills Growth Wales has been a significant benefit to us by helping us to deliver on our mission of providing a platform of services to a global client base, underpinned by organisational excellence.”
Gareth Jenkins, chair of Engineering Employers Federation Wales, commented: “Skills Growth Wales, and before it ProAct, has supported Welsh companies with growth at the very time they needed it most.”
Mr Jenkins said that the scheme is a great example of private and public partnership working well. “It has enabled businesses to absorb new technology, enter new markets with our skills and broaden the access of our people to high quality training,” he said.