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The Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) has welcomed a funding boost for 13 ‘growth sector’ apprenticeships in England.

The Treasury has published further details about the two-year, £50 million apprenticeship pilot, which was first announced by the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, in the 2023 Autumn Statement.

Thirteen apprenticeship standards have been selected to receive a £3,000 per-apprentice funding boost from April, including the pipe and plate welder programmes.

Training providers will have to deliver a minimum of 15 starts to access the funding, with the nuclear technician apprenticeship also among the 13 selected.

Through the pilot, the Department for Education (DfE) will support eligible training providers to fund capital investments, which are typically not eligible for government funding, such as course equipment, machinery and other capital expenses.

Gareth Davies, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: “The pilot will boost funding for eligible providers delivering 13 high-value advanced manufacturing and engineering, green and life sciences apprenticeship standards.”

Apprenticeships tackling skills shortages

Mr Hunt stated the growth sector pilot has been designed to test “ways to increase the number of apprentices in engineering and other key growth areas where there are shortages”.

The 13 standards have been selected based on feedback from stakeholders, evidence of skills shortages and information about where there are currently moderate start volumes.

Welding has been earmarked as one of these growth areas, with demand for welders likely to increase by 50% according to the ECITB’s Labour Forecasting Tool (LFT).

The LFT forecasts that the number of welders required in engineering construction could rise to 2,100 by 2030.

In a recent interview with Energy Voice, ECITB Head of Strategy and Policy David Nash said if industry is going to deliver major energy transition projects then “trades like welding are going to be vital to delivering this infrastructure”.

ECITB Chief Executive Andrew Hockey said: “This announcement from Treasury is good news for the engineering construction industry, apprentices and training providers.

“Funding extra capital investment will support growing additional capacity in apprenticeship programmes as we tackle skills shortages in the trades that will be vital to deliver net zero, like welding.

“This boost comes after the ECITB pledged to invest £1 million for Regional Skills Hubs over the next two years to boost training provider capacity and grow new entrant numbers in the industrial clusters that are at the heart of the UK’s decarbonisation agenda.

“The first training provider to benefit was CATCH, which was awarded £300,000 to help upgrade its training facilities in Stallingborough near Grimsby as part of a joint venture with industry partners to increase learning capacity.”

DfE will release more information, rules and guidance in the coming weeks ahead of the growth sector apprenticeship pilot starting in April.

Find out more about applying for Regional Skills Hubs Funding

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