UK businesses can now bid for a share of a £150 million pot to create the training schemes they need to grow their companies.
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock has announced the new initiative - the second round of the Employer Ownership Pilot (EOP).
The scheme has already allocated almost £70 million to companies including Nissan, Whitbread and GE Aviation.
Projects have ranged from extending skills training to local suppliers, to doubling the number of female apprentices in employment.
In total, some £250 million is now available to UK companies through the EOP, giving them the opportunity to build a skilled and engaged employee base.
Meet the skills needs of UK employers
Mr Hancock said that for the UK to compete internationally, the country needs to develop the professional expertise employers need.
"This is a unique opportunity for companies across all industries to secure their futures by addressing their skills needs now," he stated.
"I would encourage businesses – large and small – to be ambitious and innovative in their vision for how the fund can help them grow, from creating new apprenticeship programmes to setting up specialist training academies."
Mr Hancock said the EOP is not only strengthening individual businesses, but showing new ways to ensure the whole of the UK economy has the skills it needs to compete in the global race.
Think strategically about skills development
Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, commented that business leaders need to "think strategically" about their personnel.
He said they must equip workforces with the skills they know are missing, or develop those areas which have the potential to support organisational growth.
"If UK industries are to thrive, it is essential that a labour market exists which is fit for purpose now and in the future, with talented staff amongst the best in the world," Mr Mayfield added.
He said there are "no quick solutions" to creating a highly skilled workforce.
However, projects such as the EOP offer "a unique opportunity" for businesses to collaborate and create ambitious bids which can begin to address skills issues, Mr Mayfield stated.
"I would urge every business to consider how their involvement in the pilot might support them to improve the skills of our people to benefit our businesses, our economy and our society," he added.
Posted by Dan Smith