“Our priorities are clear and unequivocal and lay down the challenge to providers to work in partnership with business to address the skills shortages through targeted capital investment and curriculum innovation and design.”

Graham Razey, SE LEP Board Member for FE & Skills

Skills development remains at the very heart of our South East LEP strategy for growth which will see 200,000 new jobs created by 2021 and 100,000 additional homes built across East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock. A high quality network of Further Education (FE) Colleges and training providers is vital to achieving this.

In driving up skills levels with the SE LEP area and in maximising funding, the focus of our skills activity includes:

  • Managing the relationship with the Skills Funding Agency, particularly relating to Skills Capital and EU processes
  • Co-ordinating development of our SE LEP Skills Strategy to support further funding bids
  • Progressing Growth Deal commitments
  • Pressing for further influence over skills funding and for greater freedom and flexibility

In our SE LEP Growth Deal announced in July 2014, £22m was committed by Government to support Skills Capital projects across the LEP - an £18m Skills Capital Fund and a further £4m for specialist equipment. In addition, a number of commitments and responsibilities to influence wider skills provision were included.

Our £18m SE LEP Skills Capital Fund is being used to maintain and develop the highest quality FE College estate and has been allocated following a competition focussed strongly on supporting business and jobs.

The successful bids were:

1. Hadlow College Group’s plans to open the Ashford College in Kent - £9,800,000

2. New facilities for Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics training at The College at Braintree in Essex - £4,000,000

3. Harlow College’s new Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering Centre (AMEC) - £2,500,000

4. East Kent College’s plans to provide new training facilities for the local engineering, logistics and service industries at its Dover campus - £1,186,750

5. Refurbished science facilities at Sussex Downs College in Lewes, East Sussex - £159,440

In addition, funding is available to support skills through the our EU funding programme programme, primarily through the match funding arrangements with the Skills Funding Agency and through similar arrangements with the Department for Work and Pensions and Big Lottery. It is anticipated the first call for projects will be made this Summer.

Our SE LEP Skills Strategy was published in November 2014 in support of the SE LEP Skills Capital funding competition.