From education to employment

Supporting residents with lifelong learning

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People living and working in Greater Manchester are being empowered to harness their ambitions by accessing free, flexible learning opportunities as part of a drive to encourage lifelong learning.

This Lifelong Learning Week (Monday 6th November – Friday 10th November), Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is highlighting positive outcomes from its extensive work and skills offer as a way to encourage people with varying qualifications, needs and experience to think about how proactive learning can better their lives.

As well as plugging skills gaps in the local economy, lifelong learning plays a central role in maintaining health and wellbeing, combating social isolation and learning transferable skills, which are useful in all aspects of work and life.

Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, Greater Manchester’s Lead for Technical Education and Skills said:

“Whilst learning for productivity and employment is important, learning simply for the joy of it has increasingly only been available to those who can afford it.

“Ensuring opportunities are available to all can reignite a thirst for knowledge and can support people to feel connected with their communities.

“We’re doing this in a number of ways across our policy areas from our Get Online GM programme, which encourages people to improve digital skills, stay safe online or access assistive technologies, to our Multiply programme allowing parents to access basic numeracy support so they can help children with their homework and feel more confident to get on top of their finances.”

John Wheeldon, 75, is the Managing Director at Wheeldon Brothers Waste Ltd. Earlier this year, he accessed fully-funded training through GMCA’s Skills for Growth programme, which has recently drawn to a close.

Speaking about the importance of on-the-job training in later life, he said:

“Nowadays, you need to invest in training. You can’t bury your head in the sand and hope for the best. Having children and grandchildren, I feel that I should lead by example and encourage them to be proactive as well.

“As an employer, it’s also important to enable staff to participate in training as it demonstrates care and responsibility and it also creates opportunities for them to gain promotions.”

Over its three-year delivery period, the programme aimed to plug skills gaps identified by employers and support SME’s to grow through bespoke advice and guidance.

More than 25,000 individuals and 3,500 businesses have been supported across the ten Greater Manchester localities and around 80% of those who enrolled onto a programme completed the training.

Despite the closure of the programme, other employer-shaped training opportunities are still available through:

The varied offer in the city-region gives local people in or out of work the opportunity to learn new skills to gain or promotion, get back into the labour market after a period of leave, secure a career change or simply increase confidence with their knowledge to progress in life and in work.

Councillor O’Brien added:

“We have a constantly evolving, extremely flexible suite of opportunities available to people of all backgrounds and experience that are often worked around a learner’s existing commitments and responsibilities.

“Lifelong learning is key to keeping abreast of changing landscapes and ensuring skills are fit for the future and it can be achieved in a multitude of ways from enrolling onto a qualification to simply joining a local club or group once a week. There are so many ways to gain new skills and perspectives that can support you to reach your ambitions.”

For more information about what learning opportunities are available across Greater Manchester, please visit here

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