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South West Water wins government funding to boost skills

South West Water has become the first company in the UK to win financial support for boosting engineering skills under the Government's new Employer Ownership Fund.

The Government will co-invest £250,000 with the water and sewerage company to support staff in developing engineering skills, Business Secretary Vince Cable announced today.

The three-year training programme, starting in January 2015, will support career progression, up-skilling or re-skilling employees, conversion training for other occupations within the business, and training pathways for technicians and engineering professionals to achieve chartered status. A total of 86 existing South West Water employees are expected to benefit initially, with many of these undertaking the Level 4 Diploma in Water Industry Operations and Management.

"Engineering is central to supporting Britain's economic growth and maintaining a competitive edge,” said Cable, who was speaking at the start of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week. “To make sure this continues we must increase the supply of highly skilled and talented engineers. The Employer Ownership Fund supports employers to deliver the skills and training they need for their business can grow and thrive. I am pleased to announce that we are joining forces with South West Water to unlock the potential of their current and future employees."

Chris Loughlin, Chief Executive at South West Water, added:  "The Employer Ownership Fund provides a welcome boost to our training and development portfolio, helping us to develop a new generation of engineers and technical staff. Over the next ten years up to 40 per cent of our operational staff are due to retire, so it's important that we continue to have a steady supply of trained talent for tomorrow.  
"This training project will supplement our other development programmes, including a comprehensive Apprenticeship scheme, and open up some exciting new career opportunities for our employees."

The Employer Ownership Fund is worth £30M overall and works through matched funding, with the Government and the employer putting an equal amount towards training and skills initiatives. It was started following the recommendations of the Perkins Review into Engineering Skills, published in November last year. So far, the fund has looked at schemes which will promote engineering careers and heighten opportunities for women in the sector. It will now look at schemes to assist engineering in small businesses, with £10M earmarked for funding.

Author: James Brockett,
Tags: government , skills , South West Water , engineering

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