By Daniel Hunter

Businesses across all sectors and of all sizes can now apply for a share of up to £240 million to create tailored training programmes that address their specific skills needs.

The Employer Ownership Pilot (EOP) has already committed around £90 million and leveraged £115 million from companies including Siemens, AkzoNobel and AJ Woods Engineering.

Projects range from helping young people into work by delivering pre-employment training, to extending apprenticeships and training to supply chains. Applications are now open for the second round and will close on 28 March.

Today (Wednesday) the Skills Minister Matthew Hancock will be speaking at the launch of the ‘Glass Academy’, a project created by a consortium of businesses in the glass industry to inspire more young people to work in the sector. Partly funded by the EOP, it will provide apprenticeships, in-work training and will link with schools, universities and professional organisations.

Matthew Hancock said: “For British businesses to succeed and compete in the global race, they need a highly-skilled workforce that can meet the challenges of the future.

“With applications for round two now open, I would urge businesses — particularly small companies — to consider how the fund can help them grow, from creating new apprenticeship programmes to setting up specialist training academies.

“The Glass Academy is a fantastic example of businesses working together with government to help their industry to thrive, while also giving thousands of young people the opportunity to forge their careers in an evolving and growing sector.”

Dave Dalton, CEO of British Glass said: "We are delighted that EOP round two will enable more initiatives such as The Glass Academy to flourish, as well as providing round one bidders with the opportunity to build on their successful bids.

“We look forward to applying along with our like-minded partners so we might build the Glass Academy into a real force for learning now and in the future."

BAE Systems - which is using EOP funding to train up to 50 apprentices for companies in its North West supply chain - announced this week that MSM Aerospace Fabricators has become the first company to sign up to the scheme. The Manchester-based company has hired two BAE Systems-trained apprentices who will start in September.

Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, which administers the Employer Ownership Pilot added: “This is a major opportunity for responsible and ambitious employers to step up and get the training they need for long-term growth. I would urge businesses of all sizes, across all sectors, to get involved.”

Total government investment in EOP for rounds one and two is £340 million.

Application forms and guidance for round two can be found on the UKCES website www.ukces.org.uk/employerownership.

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