Over half a million pounds of funding has been allocated by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) for adult learning, as part of it’s newly created Innovation Fund.
Local colleges and providers can bid for grants for up to £50K to test new and innovative ways of delivering training courses to adults aged over 19. This comes as part of the devolution of the annual £11.9m Adult Education Budget to the Combined Authority from the Department of Education from 2019. The Devolution Deal allows CPCA to pool un-spent funds. Previously these would have gone back into the national Adult Education Budget. Now, CPCA can redistribute the funds to allow local colleges and providers to test new and creative ideas to reach more citizens, particularly those currently underrepresented in jobs.
Innovation Fund is targeted at unemployed citizens or at risk-of-redundancy, adults who require English language skills, health volunteers including those supporting the Covid-19 response, adults with learning difficulties and disabilities and ex-offenders.
Projects range from training entrepreneurs with business start-up ideas, English and maths support for adults, careers guidance to digital and construction skills training.
The successful projects that have been awarded funding are: Cambridge Regional College, City College Peterborough, Inspire Education Group (made up of newly merged Peterborough College and Stamford College), College of West Anglia, Skills Network and West Suffolk College.
Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer said: “I am delighted that we have been able to support a range of programmes across the region which all demonstrate innovative approaches to delivery of adult education.
“The projects we are supporting will all deliver a range of learning, employment and social outcomes for residents, communities and employers within Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
“The great thing about our Innovation Fund is helps give providers the investment they need to develop new and different methodologies that can be mainstreamed in the longer-term to benefit local people.
“I am really looking forward to seeing what our colleges and providers can achieve with funding from the Innovation Fund, we will be working closely with them to ensure the funding has the maximum impact.”
Some of the projects being funded include:
Cambridge Regional College are delivering two projects:
Successful Start Ups programme to support people at the initial stages of business idea conception. Participants will undergo an intensive two-week course which will help them to understand the commitment and challenges that come with starting a business, understanding the key steps of creating and developing a start-up as well as enhancing their digital skills.
Cambridge Regional College’s second scheme will deliver an innovative programme of maths and English learning online using Century Technology. The programme will identify each student’s individual learning needs and develop a bespoke package to develop their skills.
City College Peterborough and Inspire Education Group have been working together to open an information, advice and signposting COVID-19-secure skills shop in Peterborough city centre to support residents and employers in retraining and upskilling opportunities.
The project aims to offer specialist support to help people and businesses navigate the huge range of learning and training on offer and signpost them to appropriate opportunities for their needs. Follow-on digital, employability and life skills support workshops will be offered to those individuals at risk of redundancy, longer-term unemployed or in work and looking to upskill or retrain.
Plans to open the shop have been momentarily put-on hold in lockdown, but the project is being launched online on both college websites and promoted through social media.
Inspire Education Group have additional funding to deliver a new blended intensive English and Maths course to adults in the area who are needing to quickly update their skills to help gain employed.
The Skills Network are delivering a Digital Bootcamp, providing essential Digital and Functional Skills to unemployed young people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. On completion, the young people will progression into apprenticeships. We will recruit 30 unemployed learners, providing a bespoke learning experience that not only prepares learners for future work, but provides a guaranteed progression route.
The Skills Network have also been awarded funding to develop and update of some key learning modules to support digital and employability skills.
The College of West Anglia’s Enhancing Digital Literacy will deliver two bespoke courses to those who live in an area of high deprivation, one targeted at adults in Fenland with low level digital skills and one to those who are at a further disadvantaged by having English as a second language. This will enhance digital literacy to navigate the current technological environment we are facing, allowing them to progress onto further courses and to apply for new job opportunities that require new digital skills.
A second College of West Anglia scheme works with businesses to provide an education offer to employees. West Suffolk College propose to create a Construction Training Hub at Alconbury Weald, working with Urban and Civic with specific focus on retraining people who have been displaced due to COVID-19 or who have been long-term unemployed. The hub will also offer upskilling opportunities to existing labour force to enable them to meet the technological changes, the digitalisation of construction and meeting the jobs of the future.