Belfast Telegraph

Farry announces £1.5million Skills Collaboration fund to boost job opportunities

Stormont Executive press release - Department for Employment and Learning

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry today launched a new £1.5million Skills Collaboration Fund to create employment and learning opportunities.

The fund, which has two elements, will focus on employer-led projects and on enhancing skills competitions. The employer led element aims to create employment and learning opportunities, particularly for young people under 24 years, within small and medium size businesses with less than 250 employees.

Minister Farry said: “The introduction of the Skills Collaboration Fund is designed to encourage employers and other stakeholders to create job opportunities and up-skill their workforce. I am making £1.5million available over the next two years for robust and innovative employment and learning initiatives to assist young adults.

“The fund aims to create job and up-skilling opportunities within small businesses, primarily with young people in priority skill areas and emerging sectors. This will assist in developing a properly skilled workforce, help people fulfil their potential, enhance their employability and equip the local economy to meet the opportunities and challenges of globalisation.

“The employer-led aspect of the fund will also provide an excellent opportunity to foster and encourage collaboration between employers, Sector Skills Councils, Colleges, Universities, Training Organisations and my Department.”

The second element of the fund will provide enhanced support for skills competitions including the prestigious Skills Olympics, Worldskills.

The Minister concluded: “Northern Ireland's success in skills competitions, particularly Worldskills, clearly demonstrates the quality of our training in the Further Education sector. To win such prestigious awards is testament to the high standards of professional and technical training in our colleges, and the commitment to excellence shown by our young people.

“A dedicated amount of the fund will also be used to provide intensive training for individuals who have demonstrated outstanding skills in their chosen profession, or have the future potential to represent Northern Ireland as part of Team UK at Worldskills 2015 and beyond. Financial incentives will also be available to colleges and employers who support skills competitions."

The Skills Collaboration Fund is one of a number of projects within the implementation plan for the Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland, “Success through Skills – Transforming Futures. The Fund will run for two years with financial support of up to £750,000 available each year.

Proposals can demonstrate effective collaboration between the Sector Skills Councils and employers. Employers will be required to make tangible financial or in kind contribution. To find out more including eligibility, criteria and how to apply, please access or contact the Department’s Sectoral Development Branch on telephone number 028 9090 5257.

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