EKC and Invicta Chamber skills deal

East Kent to be a skills trailblazer

East Kent companies now have more opportunity than ever to influence the local skills agenda, after a Chamber and Further Education partnership has been appointed as one of eight national trailblazers by the Government.

The news follows a successful joint bid by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce with EKC Group, which operates colleges in Ashford, Broadstairs, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone and Sheppey, alongside MidKent College and North Kent College, to help businesses across Kent and Medway to flourish as new skills are unlocked and skills gaps are filled.

The partnership bid secured £5.6m for Kent’s further education colleges to implement a pilot Strategic Development Fund and bring forward new courses tailored to the needs of business. Under the Skills Accelerator Programme, the further education colleges will focus on three key sectors: agriculture, construction and engineering, with a shared thread of decarbonisation.

The remaining funding will create a Local Skills Improvement Programme (LSIP) with the Chamber of Commerce by working with Kent companies and other business groups to identify immediate skills needs and solutions.

Jo James, Chief Executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said: “The LSIP will help businesses shape the curriculum delivered by the local further education colleges. It will ensure the county’s skills priorities are aligned and that the workforce has the skills needed to enable businesses here in Kent to grow.

“This partnership will strengthen the relationship between business and education, ensuring Kent’s students learn the most appropriate skills for the county and increasing their employability.”

The LSIP will build upon the longstanding work between the chamber and the further education colleges, including the Kickstart training programme for 16 to 24-year-olds.

Graham Razey, Chief Executive Officer of EKC Group, said: “As a Group we are committed to working in partnership with employers across our area, and have done so very successfully in the past. This Skills Accelerator Project will ensure our colleges deliver increased innovation, productivity and resilience in the Kent and Medway economy, whilst also making a significant contribution to local and national sustainability goals for the future.” 

The focus on decarbonisation will ensure the colleges drive efforts to equip the workforce with the knowledge, skills and technological innovation to reduce the environmental impact of industry and play a key role in the area’s economic development.

As part of the LSIP programme, Kent Invicta will be hosting a series of skills workshops and events in conjunction with the further education colleges across the county.

Posted on 15/10/2021