Almost £11m has been announced to fund a further significant expansion in training places and apprenticeships in key sectors of Lancashire’s economy.
The funding, agreed by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), will contribute to nine projects worth over £34m across Lancashire. The LEP’s aim is to support a network or modern, high quality educational and training facilities which will enable the country’s workforce to improve its skill levels in key sectors of the economy which are crucial to growth.
This is the second round of a £30m investment of Growth Deal Skills funding by the LEP for training facilities across Lancashire.
One of the most important areas for Lancashire’s economy is aerospace and advanced manufacturing, where the LEP estimates that as many as 21,800 extra skilled trades people and qualified professionals and managers will be needed by 2022 due to an ageing workforce.
The funds will contribute £524,000 towards Blackpool and the Fylde College’s £1.5m project which aims to provide high quality and flexible learning spaces for business-led provision and £670,000 towards a £1.3m partnership between Lancaster University and BAE Systems to set up an Advanced Manufacturing Centre for Skills Development and Employer Engagement featuring state of the art equipment at the University Lancaster Campus and the BAE Systems Training Centre at Samlesbury.
The LEP has also agreed to give £3m toward a £7.5m Food and Farming Innovation and Technology Centre at Myerscough College, in Wyre. The agricultural sector is a major part of the county’s economy.
The growing demand for skilled workers in creative and digital industries has encouraged the LEP to invest £125,000 in a £320,000 Centre of Excellence for Digital Technology and Innovation at Accrington and Rossendale College, £3m towards the £13m cost of a Technology Hub at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, and £200,000 towards the £510,000 cost of enhancing IT and digital facilities at Runshaw College, enhancing the learner experience at both the Leyland and Euxton campuses.
Lancashire’s energy and environment sectors are also growing. To help ensure workers have the skills to fill future jobs, the LEP is investing £166,000 towards energy simulation equipment for the Lancashire Energy HQ at the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone. This is in addition to the investment towards to the Lancashire Energy HQ which was confirmed in round 1.
Around £2.5m will be invested in a £8.6m Health and Social Care Teaching Hub at the University of Cumbria's Lancaster campus. The health and social care sector makes up 16 per cent of the Lancashire workforce and requires a significant pipeline of skilled people. A further £750,000 has also been allocated to the Lancashire Adult Learning College’s £1.5m move to Brierfield Mill, Pendle, which will enable disadvantaged adults to access community learning to re-engage Lancashire people with learning and work
Dr Michele Lawty-Jones said. “Employers have told us that they will need more skilled employees in a number of key areas over the coming years if their businesses are to grow to their full potential.
“That’s why the LEP is investing £30m in transforming our post-16 educational facilities. Over the next few years, thousands of local people will be able to learn new skills, progress in work, and achieve economic well-being.
“A skilled workforce is a crucial part of our ambitious strategic growth programme to transform the the county’s economy over the next decade, creating tens of thousands of new jobs and driving economic growth.”
The LEP’s Lancashire Skills and Employment Strategic Framework 2016-2021 lays out the county’s plan for delivering the skills the county needs for growth.
The LEP has also announced funding for a wide range of projects, such as the Engineering Innovation Centre at UCLan and the Health Innovation Centre at Lancaster University.