£50 million skills fund unveiled

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The government has launched a £50 million a year fund to help businesses tackle skills shortages.

The Growth Investment Fund (GIF) will help employer groups overcome barriers to growth within their sectors, according to the Department for Business (DBIS) Secretary of State Vince Cable said: "This government understands that to rebalance and grow our economy, we need to tackle the skills shortages that hold companies back. Through this fund, we will support employers that take collective action to overcome these blockages to expansion." Cable added: "By putting the employer voice at the heart of the process, we will reward inventive approaches to training that deliver real help to get business moving." Skills minister, John Hayes added: "Government investment in skills works best for individuals and communities when it responds directly to employers' needs. By giving business the power to shape the training support we offer, we will ensure that public money directly supports jobs and growth. " GIF invites proposals from employer organisations such as Sector Skills Councils, professional bodies and trade associations, DBIS said. The prospectus outlines three types of projects where GIF funding and employer investment can be brought together, DBIS added. 1) Best Market Solutions' which will invest in the best innovative ideas to drive enterprise and remove skills barriers to growth, including through the introduction of new voluntary professional standards and voluntary training levies. 2) National Skills Academies: expanding the successful network of National Skills Academies, which already exist in 16 sectors such as environmental technology, railway engineering and retail. 3) Joint Investment Programme: bringing together employer and public investment in specific training projects which improve business productivity and growth, or address skills gaps and shortages.