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UKSPF Skills Commissioning Fund for Preston

Group of people being protected by a hand

We are seeking proposals from potential partners to deliver high-quality skills programmes in Preston. These programmes will cover a range of provision to equip individuals to gain essential skills and to access employment and career progression opportunities.

About the Skills Commissioning Fund

Preston City Council has £1,000,919 of funding to invest in people and skills (Priority 3) as part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. This fund aims to provide:

  • General skills and training programmes to meet the needs of Preston residents and employers.
  • Intensive and wrap-around support to people furthest from the labour market.

The funding has been divided into 9 projects, tailored to the specific needs of Preston. These are shown in the table below:

UKSPF Intervention



Funding allocation

E33: Support for economically inactive residents to access employment and training.

Support for young people who are NEET

To support young people aged 14-24 who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) or are at risk of becoming NEET.


E33: Support for economically inactive residents to access employment and training.

Support for economically inactive adults

To support economically inactive residents aged 25+ to access education, training and/or employment.


E34: Courses including basic, life and career skills.

Community mental wellbeing project

To deliver community courses, activities, and individual support that promotes positive mental wellbeing.


E34: Courses including basic, life and career skills.

Community digital literacy project

To deliver basic digital literacy support and training to residents who are digitally excluded.


E34: Courses including basic, life and career skills.

Community ESOL project

To deliver English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) support and training in the community.


E37: Tailored support to help people in employment.

Digital skills for people in employment

To deliver digital skills training for residents in employment to support progression to better paid and more sustainable jobs.


E37: Tailored support to help people in employment.

Bespoke training to upskill people in employment

To deliver bespoke training courses for people in employment to support progression to better paid and more sustainable jobs.


E38: Local areas to fund local skills needs.

Local skills fund

To create a fund for a college or training provider to deliver skills training courses for high demand sectors in the Preston economy which are not currently funded through the Adult Education Budget.


E39: Green skills courses to support transition to net-zero.

Green skills fund

To deliver green skills courses which support the transition to a net-zero economy.



The UK Shared Prosperity Fund

The UKSPF is a central pillar of the Government's Levelling Up Agenda and provides £2.6bn of new funding for local investment by March 2025.

The total Lancashire allocation is £54m funding. Preston has received a conditional allocation of £5,243,004 to invest in the city from 2022/23 to 2024/25, including £1 million for skills delivery.

The fund aims to build pride of place and increase life chances and this will be delivered via three investment priorities, as defined by the Government:

  1. Communities and Place
  2. Supporting local business
  3. People and skills

Preston's UKSPF programme will be delivered through 35 programmes and projects which must be completed by March 31 2025.

Call for Proposals - October 2023 Update

Our goal is to deliver an impactful skills development programme for residents in the city to improve their quality of life and employment prospects.

We aim to support individuals furthest from the labour market to overcome barriers to entering employment and enable them to access high quality jobs. Additionally, we aim to help those already in employment to gain the necessary skills to progress in their careers.

We are looking for proposals from potential delivery partners able to undertake these skills programmes and contribute to achieving our priorities. Decisions will be made based on applications which demonstrate a high quality of delivery and a proven track record. 

The community programmes for delivering mental wellbeing training, digital literacy and ESOL will also incorporate opportunities for less formal learning delivered by volunteers.

Please find information below on each of the nine skills projects for which we are seeking to appoint delivery partners. Please ensure that you read the relevant documentation thoroughly before completing and submitting your application.

Please visit our scoring framework page to find further details of the gateway criteria, scoring matrix, and application scoring weightings that will be used to assess applications.

How to apply

To apply for the UKSPF Skills Commissioning Fund please complete our online form.

Download a copy of the application form (PDF) [552KB]  before you start to make you aware of the information you will be required to submit.

You can also download a word version of the application form (Word doc) [68KB] and attach and submit via email to

If you are applying for more than one fund you will need to complete separate application forms for each project.

Saving your application form 

The application form does have a form saved button function, so you can continue the form at a later date. The email provided will send you a link to access the form and return to where you left off.

We do advice you keep a copy of the information you have created as a back-up just in case the saved button process doesn't work correctly. The form system does not collect the saved data and can only access your information once the whole application has been submitted.

The timeline for these programmes

  • Date of launch for commissioning - 08 November 2023
  • Deadline for receipt of applications - 15 December 2023 at 17:00
  • Notification of whether applications have been successful - 8 January 2024
  • Issuing of grant agreements, commencement of programmes - 1 April 2024
  • Programme end - 31 March 2025

If you have any questions about the application and scoring process please email  

Supporting young people who are/at risk of being NEET

This project will support young people aged between 14-25 who are either NEET (not in education, employment or training) or at risk of becoming NEET. It will provide access to key worker support to help these individuals into sustained employment or training opportunities. There is a need to target groups such as school leavers, school refusers, care leavers and those currently in care.

View the support for young people who are NEET

Supporting economically inactive residents aged 25+

This project will provide intensive and tailored support to residents aged 25+ who are economically inactive (not actively seeking work) and face barriers to entering employment or training. This support should address a complex range of needs to enable individuals to access training or employment.

View the support for economically inactive adults

Community mental wellbeing project

This project will focus on delivering group and class activities for residents who feel vulnerable, isolated or suffer from poor mental wellbeing. Courses and activities should be delivered across different community venues by teachers and supported volunteers, especially in the more deprived areas of the city.

The purpose of this work is to provide opportunities for these residents to engage with new people and improve their confidence and self-esteem. Bespoke one to one support for residents who need it most should also be included alongside the option for professional counselling services and signposting to further opportunities for volunteering, employment, training and education.

View the community mental wellbeing project

Community digital literacy project

This programme aims to tackle digital exclusion and skills gaps in Preston. It will particularly target older residents and those who lack basic digital skills. It will provide access to informal, drop-in support as well as more formal classroom learning, to help individuals to use devices and access important digital services.

Digital support will be provided by a combination of qualified professional staff as well as trained volunteers.

View the community digital literacy project

Community ESOL project

This project will provide ESOL learning through formal classroom teaching as well as less formal 'conversation café's,' delivered by a combination of qualified teachers and supported volunteers.  

This delivery should take place across a variety of venues with the aim of supporting residents with ESOL needs to participate as fully as possible in life in their communities, including with job applications. To ensure that these classes are accessible to the entire community, access to childcare and support for transport costs will be provided in some cases.

View the community ESOL project

Digital skills for people in employment

This project will deliver a range of digital skills for individuals and organisations with a focus on online marketing (including social media), digital platforms, cyber security essentials, and software systems. There is also scope to cover the essential digital skills needed by all employees as outlined by FutureDotNow. This will equip both businesses and individuals for the modern workplace by assisting them to use digital resources more effectively and efficiently.

View the digital skills for people in employment

Bespoke training to upskill people in employment

This project aims to upskill individuals already in employment to support career progression and enable individuals to take on higher level roles and managerial positions. This could include general employability skills such as team leading, managing people and performance, change management, project management, international business (importing and exporting), and customer service.

View the bespoke training for employment progression

Local skills fund

This funding will enable residents to access jobs where skills gaps have been recognised locally and courses cannot be funded through the Adult Education Budget. Relevant sectors in Preston could include health and social care, retail, motor vehicle, teaching and classroom support, construction, public services media, research, engineering, and technology.

Further education and training providers which have a substantial course offer in place are invited to apply to administer this fund.

View the local skills fund

Green skills fund

This project will deliver a range of courses to support businesses and residents to prepare for the net-zero transition and associated opportunities. Course delivery is likely to include training in the installation and maintenance of heat pumps, installing retrofit and insulation in the construction sector, and installing and maintaining electric vehicles, for example.

A two-tier approach is needed, one to deliver skills training for operatives and tradespeople already qualified and working in related sectors, and another for people undertaking skills training for the first time or reskilling from other occupations.

This programme should also provide a wider range of bespoke interventions such as to support niche trades and sectors that are necessary in the transition to net-zero. This could include digital skills, training more trainers to deliver net-zero courses, and supporting leaders within businesses to understand how to embed low carbon processes into their organisations.

View the Green skills fund

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