The Heart of England Attractions, a group of 15 leading West Midlands' attractions, is celebrating the news of a £1m grant from the Employer Opportunity Fund pilot to support skills development in their staff and volunteers.
The Fund, supported by the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) will help the Heart of England Attractions consortium to develop new training programmes for their dedicated teams, enabling them to compete internationally and make the most of the great tourism opportunities following London 2012. Training providers Well Associates, who have helped develop the application, will continue to work closely with the Group on its implementation and delivery.
Members of the Heart of England Attractions include Dudley Zoo, Drayton Manor Theme Park, Alton Towers Resort and the Ironbridge Gorge Museums. Collectively these 15 attractions welcome seven million visitors to the West Midlands each year including 360,000 schoolchildren.
The news was announced at an event at Westminster attended by regional MPs and Viscountess Penny Cobham, Chair of VisitEngland, James Berresford, CEO of VisitEngland, the national tourism board.
Peter Suddock, Chairman of the Heart of England Attractions said: "We are delighted with the news of this important support. The visitor economy is one of the most important and fastest growing sectors in the West Midlands and with this funding we will be able to raise the bar on our already excellent training and development programmes, creating long-term, sustainable solutions which will allow us to compete with the best in the world.
James Berresford, CEO of VisitEngland said: “It is excellent news that the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills is supporting the tourism industry through this innovative scheme”.
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: “The Heart of England Attractions project is a great example of businesses looking to the future and taking collective action to ensure they have the skills to compete nationally and internationally.
"Nearly £3 million is already being allocated to the Midlands under the Employer Ownership of Skills scheme and with applications for round two opening soon, I would encourage other businesses – large and small – to consider how this skills fund can help them grow, from creating new apprenticeship programmes to setting up specialist training academies."