Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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New drive to boost skills in Thames Gateway

New drive to boost skills in Thames Gateway

COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT News Release (186) issued by The Government News Network on 18 July 2008

A major new package of measures to improve skills and education in the Thames Gateway was unveiled today by Housing Minister Caroline Flint and Further Education Minister Bill Rammell.

Improving the skills base of residents is at the heart of a £2.45bn programme to reinvigorate Thames Gateway. With new jobs being created, and to meet the future skills required to fill those posts, a new Thames Gateway Skills Plan and Champion was also announced today.

The Thames Gateway Skills Plan, which will be delivered through the Learning and Skills Council, equips local people with the training they need to fill skills shortages in the region by:

* setting out how £1.6 billion for teaching and learning will be rolled-out, including how £1bn will be spent on raising young people's educational attainment through initiatives such as expanding school sixth-forms and work-based training;

* outlining how a further £850 million for new Further Education facilities will be delivered - such as a new FE College in Grays, Essex and the first FE college in Swale, Sittingbourne;

* ensuring access to skills and qualifications, such as rolling out the September Guarantee;

* more opportunities to progress onto higher level skills and jobs, including a pledge to drive up the number of employers, young people and adults taking up and completing apprenticeship programmes;

* providing clear career advice for young people and adults, such as linking up with JobCentre Plus.

Spearheading the transformation of skills in the region is Sir David Melville, currently Chair of Lifelong Learning UK, who is to be appointed the first Thames Gateway Skills Envoy. Sir David's role will bring together business, local authorities, and further education and higher education institutions for the benefit of the local communities and local people.

Housing Minister Caroline Flint said:

"We want to see real change in education and skills in the Gateway, ensuring every individual in the area can play their part in the challenges ahead.

"The Skills Plan is a big step forward in making that a reality and why the Government is backing these plans with millions of pounds of investment."

Further Education Minister Bill Rammell said:

"Skills are the key to successful companies, sustainable communities and individual prosperity. That's why we are making this investment in skills for the Thames Gateway, ensuring every resident is empowered to contribute to the social regeneration and long-term competitiveness of the region."

Sir David Melville said:

"I am honoured to be appointed as Skills Envoy for the Thames Gateway.

"Our key aims are to ensure that skills levels are raised throughout the Gateway so that local people can take full advantage of the employment opportunities of this major regeneration project and employers are able to meet all of their skills needs."

Mike Pettifer, Learning and Skills Council Area Director - London East said:

"Raising the aspirations and appetite for learning among the local population is crucial so that they can compete for the new jobs that will be created as part of the Thames Gateway Regeneration Project.

"We are already seeing improved skills provision due to increased capital investment in the area, resulting in more learners staying on in post-16 education and a reduction in NEET figures. Employers are also tackling the skills gap and training their staff through the Train to Gain programme, which was piloted in the region from 2003."

Notes to editors

The Learning and Skills Council Thames Gateway Skills Plan 2008/09 can be found at:

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