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Posted 27.02.18

Plymouth College of Art joins £5.8 million project to drive up employee skills in Devon and Somerset

By Phillip Buchan
Plymouth College of Art joins Plymouth University in a £5.8 million project to drive up employee skills in Devon and Somerset, aiming to improve participation for people of all ages who are currently the least likely to engage in higher level skills.

The college is part of a consortium of education providers, led by the University of Plymouth, launching a multi-million-pound initiative to drive up employee skill levels across the South West of England.

Supported by a grant from the European Social Fund (ESF), the scheme involves 10 institutions working across Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay. Its aim will be to improve participation for people of all ages who are currently the least likely to engage in higher level skills, boosting employee qualifications and addressing skill shortages among individuals and small/medium sized businesses across the region.

“Hidden Talent in Devon is an opportunity for us to support the progression of individuals into higher education or the workplace."

– Oli Raud, Strategic Funding Manager at Plymouth College of Art

As well as Plymouth College of Art and the University of Plymouth, the project will involve Bridgwater & Taunton College, City College Plymouth, Exeter College, Petroc, South Devon College, Strode College, the University of Exeter and Yeovil College. Together, they have been awarded more than £3.2 million of ESF monies (towards a total project fund of £5.8 million) to support a number of programmes designed to increase collaboration between further and higher education and business.

Oli Raud, Strategic Funding Manager at Plymouth College of Art, said: “There are two projects here that we’re very excited about for the city and the region, Hidden Talent in Devon and Strategic Employer Engagement in Devon.”

“Hidden Talent in Devon is an opportunity for us to support the progression of individuals into higher education or the workplace, by providing innovative short courses in a range of skills, everything from 3D digital fabrication and design in the Fab Lab, to things like photography, illustration and graphic design. These are the kind of skills that can really make you stand out when you’re looking for work.”

“The most exciting part is that the college’s role in the project will focus on reaching out to people across Devon who aren’t normally targeted with opportunities like this. We’re creating new routes into employment, by supporting access to creative education for people in age groups and life situations who might not typically feel like higher education is an option.”

“The Strategic Employer Engagement in Devon project offers the same kind of innovative digital skills, but with a focus on helping to improve people’s progression opportunities within the workplace. Teaching skills like 3D design in the Fab Lab to workers in businesses across Devon will help to support the creation of new products and services and create new opportunities for people who might not have otherwise felt that they could learn these new skills.”

“Get in touch with Bethany Pyner (bpyner@pca.ac.uk or 01752 203434 EXT 614) for more information about the criteria if you feel like learning a creative skill could help you to stand out. Equally, if you’re from a small or medium-sized business and feel like higher level skills or training could help you, get in touch to find out more.”

The collaboration, which runs until April 2020, will seek out innovative approaches to delivery and curriculum development and there will be a focus on identifying and addressing areas with limited provision.

These aims will be delivered in a variety of ways, but there will be a significant focus on Higher and Degree Apprenticeships, with many of the partners already working with industry to deliver the Government-backed initiatives. In addition, partners will be seeking to improve employability prospects and reduce the risk of drop out for those engaged in training at level four and above.

The project is receiving up to £5.8 million of funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England, of which Plymouth College of Art will be receiving up to £234,060 for the Hidden Talent in Devon and Strategic Employer Engagement in Devon projects. The Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations.

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