Who will pay for new academies?

4th November 2005 at 00:00
The creation of four new further education academies was announced this week - although funding chiefs are still working out where the money will come from.

David Way, director of skills at the Learning and Skills Council, said the complete business plan for the four academies is yet to be finalised. They are expected to cost pound;40 million to set up.

The academies, specialising in manufacturing, construction, food and drink, and financial services, are supposed to be created with a mixture of public and private cash and become self-financing once established.

Mr Way said sorting out who pays what was "top of my agenda for the next few months".

He added: "It is going to be a critical period and we will be talking to businesses to see what exactly the deal will be and what money will be put into the academies."

Businesses have yet to agree how much capital they will put into the academies and will face intense lobbying into the New Year, with the institutions expected to open in September 2006.

They are designed to fill gaps in the labour market and employers will be closely involved in developing the curriculum.

In manufacturing, government figures show there are about 48,000 vacancies, of which 13,000 are the result of skills shortages.

The construction industry is said to require around 88,000 new entrants per year in craft, technical, professional and management roles and estimates it will need 250,000 people skilled to NVQ level 2 (GCSE-equivalent) by 2010. There are more than 32,000 construction vacancies of which 13,700 are said to be due to skills shortages. Site-based training centres will be linked to major construction projects. The food and drink industry is reported to have 8,600 vacancies with 1,900 of these blamed on skills shortages.

The financial services sector struggles to recruit young people and adults with suitable skills from entry level to professional posts and has 25,000 vacancies of which 4,100 are skills shortage vacancies.

FE Focus reported last week that the four new academies were expected to rely heavily on public subsidy despite one of their main features being the ability to attract private-sector sponsorship.

The scheme is modelled on the pound;20m fashion retail academy bankrolled by tycoon Philip Green, owner of the Arcadia retail group.

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