Thousands of people and families across Edinburgh and South-East Scotland are set to benefit from a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ skills initiative after the first three of the seven skills projects being developed were given the green light for funding under the City Region Deal’s Integrated Regional Employability and Skills (IRES) Programme.
The trio of visionary skills initiatives are aimed at ensuring people of all ages and backgrounds can share in economic growth across the region by tackling future skills gaps across construction and data innovation as well as helping families in deprived areas to take advantage of the opportunities.
The projects which were approved at a meeting of the City Region Deal Joint Committee on Friday (1st March) include:
Leeann Dempster, Chief Executive of Hibernian Football Club, is Chair of the Regional Enterprise Council which advises the City Region Deal Joint Committee. She said: “The City Region Deal is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make such a significant investment in giving everyone in our region a share in economic growth and prosperity.
“Through these three skills projects, the City Region Deal partners are funding and delivering a series of skills interventions which will prepare people for the economy of tomorrow and, importantly, challenge some of the persistent inequalities we see in our local employment market.
“As someone in business, I’m excited by this acceleration in City Region Deal activity and know how much of an impact it will have. I would like to commend the City Region Deal partners for working together so closely and collaboratively to bring these initiatives to this stage. “
Infrastructure Secretary, Michael Matheson said: “Using £300 million of Scottish Government investment, the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal is designed to deliver inclusive economic growth, providing opportunities and distributing the benefits fairly across the entire region.
“It is essential that our workforce have the skills they need to succeed. The Scottish Government is therefore investing £25 million in the people of Edinburgh and South East Scotland. This programme will ensure that there are better opportunities for all, including people with disabilities or health conditions, young people and those in work who require to upgrade their skills. As a result, businesses within the City Region will have access to a skilled and motivated workforce.”
Scottish Secretary, David Mundell, said: “There is good progress being made on the City Region Deal projects. The UK Government is investing £300 million in the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal to deliver transformational change, opportunities and inclusive growth to the region. It’s important that we build on our existing strengths, maintain the UK’s position as a world leader in innovation, and create jobs for the future – that is why we’ve so far committed £1.3 billion to city and growth deals across Scotland.”
Led by Edinburgh Napier University, The HCI Gateway initiative will engage with schools, training programmes, upskilling and key disadvantaged community groups to support entry to new jobs and support career developments. HCI Gateway will address a looming skills shortage affecting the region’s construction sector and includes specific measures to challenge the gender gap in employment within the Housing, Construction and Innovation sectors.
Edinburgh Napier’s Professor Sean Smith, who will lead the HCI Skills Gateway, stated: “this is a very exciting time for South East Scotland. Over the next 10-20 years this will be the fastest growing region in Scotland and 5th fastest in the UK. We will require to build 40% more homes in the next 20 years than we did in the 20 years prior to the recession. New infrastructure and innovation will be key to this growth and also new skills and job opportunities.”
Project partners include Edinburgh Napier, Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities, the region’s local authorities, and Fife, Borders, Edinburgh and West Lothian Colleges. The project will support over 5,000 upskilling and training opportunities and engage with primary and secondary schools to support future career pipelines.
The DDI Skills Gateway aims to bring opportunities of the emerging data economy to disadvantaged communities across the City Region and address gender inequality in the tech sector. It will reach out to up to 250,000 people in the region to help improve their data skills and career opportunities, with a specific focus on encouraging people from groups currently under-represented in the sector to take on careers in this important emerging area of the economy.
The IFS services will focus on supporting workless, lone parent and low-income households in some of the most deprived parts of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland city region and help to ensure all sections of society will benefit from the good opportunities that will be generated by the City Region Deal.
In addition to the three skills programmes, the Joint Committee also approved a £189m investment in the Edinburgh Futures Institute and two major investment programmes across the region – £35m in funding for a ten-year Fife Industrial Innovation Investment programme, and £15m in funding for a Central Borders Innovation Park at Tweedbank.