By Marcus Leach

The second phase of the Growth and Innovation Fund (GIF) was launched today (Wednesday) by Business Secretary Vince Cable and Minister for Skills John Hayes.

The fund will support businesses to develop their skills solutions tailored to their own needs, transforming growth in their sector, region or supply chain.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will be providing £34 million for 2012-13 and there is still £29 million available to bid for. With matched funding from businesses there will be around £60 million available under GIF this year. Comparable levels of investment are planned for the following two years.

“The Government understands we need to tackle the skills shortages that are holding companies back. Through this fund, we will support employers that take collective action to overcome these barriers, helping to rebalance and grow our economy," Business Secretary Vince Cable said.

“By putting the employer’s voice at the heart of the process, we will reward inventive approaches to training that deliver real help to get business moving.”

Attending a reception to launch the GIF funded Hospitality Guild, John Hayes announced that this year the Government would be accepting applications throughout the year, ensuring projects could be approved at several points in 2012, rather than having one annual round.

“I know times are tough for many businesses, but I am determined to do all I can to build a skills system that creates opportunity for young people, and puts firms on course for growth," Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, John Hayes said.

“Government investment in skills works best for individuals and communities when it responds directly to employers’ needs. Offering a more continuous process will ensure that public money will be able to fund more projects throughout the year, giving business the power to shape training and directly support jobs and growth.

“The Hospitality Guild is a great example of how the Growth and Innovation Fund can help unify businesses and professional training bodies to raise skills in the sector, and support staff development within both large and smaller players in this industry.”

The Growth and Innovation Fund offers targeted help for employer groups to overcome barriers to growth within their sectors and industries. The funding is already supporting 15 projects across the country deliver new training to boost innovation and productivity, enable industries to set new professional standards, or support new or extended National Skills Academies.

Earlier this year in collaboration with nine other founding members of the Hospitality Guild, People 1st successfully put forward a bid for GIF funding.

“Through the Hospitality Guild, the hospitality industry has a real opportunity to shout about the career opportunities it offers, to demonstrate its passion for skills and its ambition to raise its productivity and professionalism," Martin-Christian Kent, Hospitality Guild Director, said.

“With 1 in 14 people working in the hospitality industry, an area that has been growing despite the economic downturn, the Hospitality Guild will also have a role to play in tackling unemployment through facilitating strong ‘into work’ programmes, apprenticeships and work placements.”

Following that first round several improvements have been made to GIF to make it more accessible to potential applicants. GIF will now open for business all year round, meaning proposals can be submitted whenever they arise and are ready to be considered for investment.

Where proposals are identified as meriting GIF co-investment the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) will be available to work alongside the applicant to ensure the projects have the very best chance of fulfilling their promise to make a significant impact on enterprise, jobs and growth.

To make sure that the investment fund can support businesses in the different ways they work together to secure growth, including in a particular geographical area, we have extended eligibility to apply to local enterprise partnerships, alongside the wide range of sector and employer bodies already in scope.

Join us on
Follow @freshbusiness