A CUMBRIAN college and University consortium has been successful in applying to pilot the Government’s flagship Skills Accelerator programme.

The programme, which will run from August 2021 to March 2022, will aim to strengthen relationships and partnerships with employers, allowing employers to provide a clearer idea of the skills needed in the local area.

Principal at Lakes College described what this means for Cumbria, Chris Nattress said: “We are delighted that Cumbria has been selected as one of a handful of pilot areas to develop and test innovative ways of ensuring technical education and support for skills is very closely aligned to exactly what employers need to support their operations.

“Success with the pilot will mean better opportunities for skilled and well-paid work for our communities.”

One of only 18 in the country, the consortium, led by Lakes College, and delivered by Furness College, Carlisle College, Kendal College, and the University of Cumbria, will develop and pilot an innovative College Business Centre model, alongside other related activities, that will directly support local employers in developing the skilled employees and apprentices they need to support economic growth for Cumbria.

Conservative MP for Workington, Mark Jenkinson, said: “This pilot focusses on the technical skills that businesses require locally - skills that are in demand.

“This is good news for businesses and good news for those looking to enter the workplace as they embark upon their career.”

This programme is seen as a key part of Government reforms set out in the Skills for Jobs White Paper and will tie in closely with developing Local Skills Improvement Plans for Cumbria.