From education to employment

More than 51,000 Greater Manchester residents benefit from devolved skills training during pandemic

Andy Burnham

IN AN unprecedented year, the devolved budget for adult education has continued to deliver training opportunities and skills provision for people across Greater Manchester, a new @greatermcr report has highlighted.

More than 51,000 residents across the city-region have been able to access skills and training programmes since local control of the Adult Education Budget (AEB) was transferred to Greater Manchester, despite the effects of the pandemic.

The £92m adult education funding supports residents across Greater Manchester to develop the skills required for work and life, with a wide range of courses at colleges, training providers as well as some local councils available.

By having control of the budget, Greater Manchester was able to craft policies in response to local needs, including the Covid-19 pandemic. During the pandemic funding was used to develop a range of programmes to train people into key worker professions, while extra skills support was given to those at risk of redundancy. Funding was also used to provide clear routes into training, so Greater Manchester residents were able to upskill into roles employers require to support the economy.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “During the first year of being in control of the Adult Education Budget we have been able to have greater say over how we upskill people.

“Our city-region was able to respond swiftly to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis and support people going through a challenging time, such as furlough or redundancy, through training opportunities and skills provision. Previously, we just would not have been able to respond in this way and this brings us one step closer of achieving our ambition of becoming a world class city-region, where everyone is able to grow, thrive and prosper.”

The first AEB Annual Report since control of the budget was devolved to Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) in August 2019 is published today.

Cllr Sean Fielding, GMCA Lead for Digital, Education, Skills, Work and Apprenticeships, said: “This report is an example of how devolution works in practise. By being in control of the Adult Education Budget, our city-region has been able to respond creatively to the coronavirus crisis.

“We have been able to respond to the needs of our 10 boroughs, providing skills and training in local growth sectors where supply and demand was needed, such as social care. We’ve also been able to provide training opportunities to residents who were employed or furloughed.

“I also want to thank all of the training providers, colleges and local authorities who have worked incredibly hard over the last year, sometimes under challenging circumstances, to deliver training programmes and help residents to progress in their careers.”

Joanne Roney OBE, Lead Chief Executive for Education, Skills, Employment and Apprenticeships, said: “Many people are having to retrain as they progress in their careers due to the development of the digital economy. New skillsets are also required to achieve Greater Manchester’s ambition of becoming a zero-carbon city-region.

“Control of the budget has also allowed better partnership working, to allows us to respond better to employer needs in the growing sectors in our city-region.”

The AEB has also been used to respond to the skills and training challenges highlighted by the pandemic such as:

  • The development of a suite of programmes to support furloughed staff with retraining
  • Rapid response to redundancies
  • Support for reskilling and upskilling for employment roles in critical sectors such as health, social care and logistics.

Over the past 18 months a focus has been placed on taking a place-based approach, allowing GMCA to respond to the needs of the 10 local authorities rather than a one-size fits all approach used previously. Control of the AEB has also allowed better partnership working and has enabled skills providers to connect their areas of work and respond better to employer needs in the growth sectors outlined in the Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy.

More than £1.5m in funding has been distributed to local authorities to support the breaking down of barriers to adult education. Seven councils have worked together to launch the Greater Manchester English to Speakers of Other Languages Advice Service, while 2,000 pieces of digital kit and connectivity support was delivered to thousands of residents to help them get online. Work has also taken place to support the hardest to reach residents with help from 100 VCSE organisations.

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