Calls for changes to the way industrial training courses are funded were put to Skills Minister Nick Boles when he visited Middlesbrough College.
During his visit to the Tees Valley the Minister met the first former SSI apprentice to secure work with the support of Taskforce funding, before being taken on a tour of the college’s new £20m skills centre – delivering world class training in science, technology, engineering and maths.
Middlesbrough College received £1.2m funding to deliver the widest breadth of specialist industrial training courses and retraining opportunities in the area for those affected by the closure of SSI.
The courses have been tailor-made and to date almost 700 former SSI workers have applied to Middlesbrough College for retraining.
Zoe Lewis, Middlesbrough College principal and chief executive (pictured above with Mr Boles) said: “If we could break down some of the bureaucratic barriers that exist to funding then we could help more people access the ‘ticket to employment’ courses.
“They are the commercial courses that are traditionally paid for by industry – courses that result in licences to work, such as HGV, Forklift and Crane operation, Scaffolding, Rigging and Lifting.
“The funding that’s been made available in the wake of SSI means that for a limited time we are able to offer those courses to those directly affected by the crisis, but only to those directly affected.
“If the funding for all courses was as flexible as that provided to help SSI workers we are confident it would make a major difference to people’s employability.”
Amanda Skelton, chair of the SSI Taskforce and Chief Executive of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, told the Minister: “The support we are providing to SSI workers is proving very effective and given the scale of the unemployment levels in this area we’d like the flexibility to make similar support available to others.”
Mr Boles said that if the Taskforce and Middlesbrough College put together a proposal for extending the flexibilities then he would be “very happy to look at it”.