Government pledges £90m to set up 12 new skills academies to address skills shortages

The government is to invest £90m into the national skills academy network in a bid to drive up the standard of industry training and address skills shortages across England.

Twelve academies, which will provide vocational education and training tailored to specific industry needs, are expected to be operational by 2008.

This includes four new academies in sports and active leisure; retail; glass manufacture, coatings, print and building products; and fashion, textiles and jewellery that education secretary Alan Johnson announced the creation of at the skills pledge launch last week.

Skills minister Phil Hope said: “National Skills Academies are starting to transform vocational training sector by sector. They are giving employers a unique opportunity to shape curriculum and delivery in return for investing in academies.”

Employers taking part in the initiative – such as Toyota or Nationwide – will sponsor around 50% of the academies’ capital costs, with the remainder coming from the government or other sources such as European funding.

A National Skills Academy spokesman said: “Employers are at the heart of the development of the National Skills Academy programme, giving them a real say in how they are run, including influencing the curriculum to ensure it reflects their needs.”

Chris Banks, chairman of the Learning and Skills Council, said: “The National Skills Academy network helps to address the skills gaps England faces today and there has been an encouraging response from business towards the network.  This unique collaboration between the government and industry ensures skills training is delivered in a way that best benefits businesses and really helps to improve UK productivity.”

National skills academies already exist in the construction, financial services, manufacturing and food and drink manufacturing industries. Those for the nuclear, process industries, creative and cultural, and hospitality sectors are currently at the business planning stage and, if approved, will become operational later this year.

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