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Funding boost for employability

The government has ring fenced pound;24 million from its employability fund to finance employability courses at colleges, the education secretary has told principals and chairs.

While little is known about how exactly the money is to be distributed, sector experts believe colleges will have to bid for a portion of the funds in the same way they did this year for the Skills Development Scotland New College Learning Programme which delivered pound;13 million for short employability courses during this academic year.

Places on the SDS employability programme are separate from colleges' Scottish Funding Council funded places and the pound;24 million announced this week is also discrete from the core teaching grant, which has seen significant cuts over the last two years. At this stage, it is not known whether the pound;24 million pot of money will be a continuation and extension of this year's pound;13 million funding.

A Scottish government spokesperson said: "Ministers have been clear that as the employability fund is developed, pound;24 million will be ring-fenced for colleges. We are working closely with Skills Development Scotland, the sector and other partners on finalising the details of the fund and how it will benefit learners and the economy more widely."

Liz McIntyre, principal of Borders College, who earlier this week gave evidence on behalf of Scotland's Colleges at the education committee, said: "Any additional funding that colleges can access is obviously welcome, and we look forward to finding out in more detail how this additional financial support will affect provision.

"Employability courses can be valuable for many young learners. However, Scotland's Colleges is keen to work with SDS to develop these programmes to ensure they meet the aspirations of learners and the needs of employers."

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