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National skills academies launched with places for more than 300,000 learners

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The Government has launched national skills academies to cover the rail engineering, logistics, green building services, biotechnology and composites sectors.

In addition, the National Skills Academy for Power is now ready to open for business, with a further £2.9 million government funding. Together, all the academies will aim to attract more than 300,000 learners to the training programmes they oversee over the next four years.

In the nuclear sector, the Government plans to co-fund the delivery of up to 1,000 apprenticeships per year subject to employer demand for places and the availability of training. This commitment is part of plans to deliver 35,000 advanced and higher apprenticeships to people aged 19 to 30.

On the day the UK Commission for Employment and Skills publishes its first National Strategic Skills Audit, the Government also launches a £50 million Joint Investment Programme, matching employer investment pound for pound in priority sectors.

Commissioned and requested by the Government, the Skills Audit sets out the current standing of UK skills and those that will be needed in future years in the sectors that will be crucial to future growth.

Business secretary Lord Mandelson said: "Ambitious government projects like High Speed Rail and new civil nuclear power need a range of new skills to make them a reality.

"We are investing in the industries where employers' need is greatest - tens of thousands of people working in these industries, the consumers they serve and the UK as a whole will see the benefit.

"New academies and investment by employers, in partnership with colleges and the education sector, will create the best training that gives people the skills they need to boost their careers and drive the economy forward."

EDF Energy has backed calls by the Commission for Employment and Skills for the UK to develop a long-term approach to the development of skills..

Eva Eisenschimmel, chief officer -  people, organisation and brand performance at the power company, said: "The UK needs the right workforce to build a low-carbon economy. Energy and related services are going to be a huge growth area for jobs and can help drive the country through the recession.

"Business, Government, skills bodies and education and training providers must all be part of a co-ordinated plan for the future. This report by UKCES is an important step in understanding the UK's needs, what opportunities that will create and what skills we need to develop. We need an infrastructure in place that can deliver the right people for the job."