Defying the deficit

Posted on 5 Aug 2010 by The Manufacturer

Proskills is close to winning millions in skills funding for the process manufacturing sector despite lean times for government aid.

Proskills, the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for the process and manufacturing sector, has reached the final stage of the Joint Investment Programme for Strategic Skills, launched in March this year.

The programme is designed to bring together public and private investment to support training and skills development in areas key to economic recovery and future growth.

Proskills was one of 21 organisations which submitted an Expression of Interest to the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) for funding from the JIP for training people in low carbon technologies. If Proskills succeeds in the final business planning stage of their bid then they will secure £3.7m in skills funding for its industries.

Over 80 companies in the process and manufacturing sector, involving a potential 12,000 learners, responded to Proskills’ requests for support in the bid and their inputs have contributed to the relevance and strength of Proskills’ offering. The submission of the final business plan for the bid is due in September this year.

Terry Watts, Proskills CEO, said “The budgetary issues facing the Government are well documented, and the funding for skills and training are not immune from the ongoing cuts and savings. With the majority of focus on keeping young people in training or employment, funding for people in the workforce is likely to become harder to find in the future. We received huge support from industry in our bid for one of the few budgets available and we are delighted that we have reached the final business planning stage. The skills developed through this programme will be vital to industry as we adapt to the low carbon agenda. ”

Research by Proskills shows that two thirds of employers say that environmental and low carbon issues will be important for the process and manufacturing industries in the future. The Joint Investment Programe will bring together for the first time a coherent programme that addresses the low carbon skills agenda in the sector, and will include energy reduction, new technologies, product performance, waste reduction, alternative fuels, and warehousing. All of the public funding assigned through the programme will be spent directly on training and qualifications for people in the sector.

Terry continued “The money assigned by the Government through this scheme will be matched by employers on a 50:50 basis, demonstrating the continuing commitment of employers in the sector to training and developing their employees. By working with industry in this way we have been able to demonstrate to government that there is demand for the right provision out there, but that the current system is unable to satisfy it.” Proskills role in acting as a conduit for sector skills challenges is essential to the resilience of its sector and highlights the importance of SSCs in general in facilitating appropriate skills development for a more robust manufacturing economy in the UK.

In TMs forthcoming September edition Terry Watts will be contributing to an article on smart production methods for advanced manufacturing. In this piece Watts highlights some of the most exciting new processes which could change the face of the Proskills sector and talk about how companies can make ready to exploit the potential of these technologies by educating employees and thinking creatively about applications. Read TM September to find out more.