PUBLIC money is to be given directly to employers so they can develop their own vocational training programmes.
The government says it has received 269 bids from employers from around the English regions and economic sectors for a share of the £250 million Employer Ownership pilot project.
Skills Minister John Hayes said: “Skills are central to the UK economy and our long-term competitiveness and we’re making excellent progress with the biggest apprenticeship programme in modern history.
“That’s why the government has put building workforce capabilities through training at the heart of our economic strategy.
“But there’s always more to do and because we know the skills system must be demand driven, we’re determined to put employers in the driving seat. With unprecedented focus and funding we’ll match and beat competitor nations who have always valued vocational education.
“This pilot fund will give employers the space and opportunity for greater ownership of the vocational skills agenda encouraging innovation and new thinking as we provide the platform for sustainable growth.”
The vision of greater employer ownership has been championed by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) – a non-departmental public body that provides strategic leadership on skills and employment issues.
Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and the John Lewis Partnership, said: “The pilots are all about encouraging innovation and partnership in an area that is critical to the growth and success of our economy. I look forward to seeing what changes we can start to make as a result of these investments.”
The winners of the bids will be announced later in the year.
A decision will be made in the coming months regarding the timing of a second round of bidding following an evaluation of the success of the first round.