Fenland gets slice of £500k pot to boost digital skills

Mayor James Palmer on a pre-Covid visit to a local company and to see the efforts put in to boost training. 

Mayor James Palmer on a pre-Covid visit to a local company and to see the efforts put in to boost training. - Credit: CAPCA

Adults in Fenland with low digital skills are to be invited to take part in a new course run by The College of West Anglia. 

Course funding has been secured from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA). 

The college will also be provided with CAPCA funding to offer a second course aimed at those “further disadvantaged by having English as a second language”. 

Mayor James Palmer says the money will come from the £500,000 allocated by CAPCA for adult learning as part of its newly created innovation fund. 

He said the two “bespoke courses” were aimed at those who live in an area of high deprivation. 

Cambridge Regional College are delivering two projects including a programme supporting people who want to start their own business. 

Would be entrepreneurs will undergo an intensive two-week course to help through the early stages. 

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A second scheme will involve use of technology in maths and English.  

And at Alconbury Weald, the College of West Anglia and West Suffolk College will join forces on a construction training hub. 

Working with Urban and Civic the focus will be 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,” says Mayor Palmer. 

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 CAPCA from the Department of Education from 2019.  

Devolution allows CAPCA to pool un-spent funds.  Previously these would have gone back into the national adult education budget.  

Now, CAPCA 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. 

The 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.  

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 Palmer said: “The projects we are supporting will all deliver a range of learning, employment and social outcomes for residents, communities and employers. 

“The great thing about our innovation fund is that it 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”.