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Colleges to invest £142 million to address the skills gap

More than 50 colleges across the UK will be spending a total of £412 million on physical infrastructure projects, helping to bridge the UK skills gap – the topic for HR magazine's next TV Debate on 27 November.

The Government is investing £110 million, through the Skills Funding Agency, which will be matched with £302 million investment from the colleges.

One of the projects will include a state-of-the-art civil engineering academy.

The funding is the third phase of the Enhanced Renewal Grant (ERG3) which has contributed £330 million since May 2010, supporting over £1 billion of investment in college buildings across England.

Making the announcement yesterday at the Association of Colleges (AoC) Conference, business secretary Vince Cable said:

"Addressing gaps in skills is an important part of our industrial strategy. This initiative is another example of how Government is working in long-term partnership with industry to give them more confidence to invest, hire and grow."

Cable added: "These projects will transform the learning environment for thousands of students across the country, providing them with state-of-the-art facilities and modern resources that will help them fulfill their potential."

Examples of successful bids submitted to the Skills Funding Agency, who conducted the assessment and moderation process, include:

* South Essex College of Further and Higher Education has raised almost £40 million, which will be combined with nearly £3 million grant support, to build a new town centre site. It will have facilities ranging from mechanical engineering workshops to student training kitchens

* A new £4 million agriculture building at Bridgewater College in Somerset will address the growing demand for specialist rural skills and develop closer links with the agriculture industry in the region

* A new £7.7 million creative industries building at Kingston College will replace existing facilities.

* £8.1 million will be spent on refurbishing the campus and building new arts facilities at Burton and South Derbyshire College.

Julian Gravatt, AoC assistant chief executive, said: "These colleges will now be able to improve their facilities for the benefit of the learners, businesses and the communities they serve."

On Tuesday 27 November, HR magazine will host a live web TV debate bringing together experts to discuss practical steps to transform the skills and productivity of the UK's working age population.

To register for our LIVE HR Lunchtime Debate on 27 November 2012 at 13.00 please click here