Skills Accelerator Programme Launches Strategic Development Fund Pilots

Funding available to colleges and skills providers to support pilot projects that respond to local skills and innovation priorities in England.

The Skills Accelerator programme is a core part of the government’s blueprint for reshaping the technical skills system to better support the needs of the local labour market and the wider economy. It incorporates the Local Skills Improvement Plan trailblazers (for employer bodies) and the Strategic Development Fund pilots.

The Strategic Development Fund will explore how providers can work together more effectively, alongside employers and other partners, to respond to local skills and innovation priorities. This includes those identified by Local Skills Improvement Plans.

£65 million grant funding is being made available through the Strategic Development Fund. This consists of £38 million capital funding and £27 million revenue funding.

The pilots will run in a number of areas of the country, including areas that do not have a Local Skills Improvement Plan trailblazer.

In trailblazer areas, the Strategic Development Fund pilot will run alongside the development of the Local Skills Improvement Plan.

The pilots will help:

  • Support the development of a high-value curriculum offer in support of longer-term skills priorities
  • Enable better and more efficient use of the existing facilities and investment in further education (FE)
  • Strengthen the relationship with employers
  • Understand how development funding can help prioritise change in local planning.

Applications may be made by groups of colleges and providers. It must be submitted by a lead applicant.

Eligible providers include:

  • General FE colleges (including specialist colleges, for example, land-based)
  • Institutions that have been designated as being part of the FE sector
  • Institutes of Technology
  • Sixth form colleges
  • Independent training providers (including employer independent training providers and group training associations)
  • Higher education providers delivering level 4 and 5 provision and higher-level apprenticeships
  • Local authority providers
  • Schools with sixth forms
  • University technology colleges.

The programme is looking for 12 to 16 areas to pilot the fund.

Expressions of interest should be submitted by the deadline of 25 May 2021 (midday).