Manchester City Council

Agenda item

Agenda item

Devolution of the Adult Skills Budget

Report of the Head of Wok and Skills attached.


This report provides an update on the impact of the the progress of the devolution of the Adult Education Budget (AEB) to GMCA from 1 August 2019 for the 2019/20 academic year onwards.  The report also provides further information on the position in Manchester so far, the result of the GM AEB funding allocations to grant funded and procured providers, and the role of the Manchester Adult Education and Skills Plan in ensuring impact from the devolved funds are maximised.


The Committee considered the report of the Head of Work and Skills that provided an update on the progress of the devolution of the Adult Education Budget (AEB) to Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) from 1 August 2019 for the 2019/20 academic year onwards.


The Head of Work and Skills referred to the main points and themes within the report which included: -


·                Providing a description and context of the Adult Education Budget;

·                The importance of Adult education and skills provision as a key element in ensuring Manchester reached its Our Manchester Strategy vision by 2025;

·                Describing the national context for adult education;

·                The ability through devolved AEB funds that had influenced the introduction of 8 new flexibilities to the funding stream;

·                Describing the Manchester provision; and

·                Describing future opportunities.


The Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure commented that the devolution of the Adult Education budget presented an opportunity and flexibility as to how the council spent this money locally, giving greater ability to deliver better outcomes.  He highlighted the main concern was that Adult education providers were already overspent on the current budget to meet demand and that the anticipated future funding would not meet the level of demand.


Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -


·                It was pleasing to note that all of Greater Manchester Further Education (FE) providers are now rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted;

·                It was noted that there had been a shift to focus more on longer-term career ambitions of Manchester residents to meet the skills needed for the City;

·                There was concern about the ability of Manchester residents to access FE providers across the City given the current inadequacy of local public transport;

·                What buy in had there been from employers in regards to influencing adult education and skills provision, co-investing in upskilling their workers and developing the skills needed for their organisations to thrive;

·                What provision was being made in relation to the retraining of the City’s workforce to enable residents to move between employment industries, given that most people no longer remained in the same job for most of their working life;

·                What conversations had taken place around potential future employment opportunities within the developing green economy within the city and the skills required for this sector;

·                Would it be possible to have a future report on the work being undertaken with employers;

·                It was suggested that there should be capacity within the proposal to provide free learning for employed residents earning below the national living wage to address those employed in shift work; and

·                What work was taking place to ensure that the Adult Education Budget was adequately funded should there be any removal of European Social Funding.


The Head of Work and Skills advised that in terms of accessibility to further education, Manchester College would operate a Centre of Excellence within the city centre and three community hubs across the city – Wythenshawe, Openshaw and Harpurhey.  It was commented that in terms of the Adult Education budget, in regards to accessibility, providers, colleges and local authorities were scored against this and had to demonstrate how their offer/provision could be accessed in all areas as well as their adaptability to change.


In terms of retraining, it was reported that there was a national scheme, however, the Council and FE providers were still awaiting the detail of what this scheme would offer and how it would be delivered.  It was reported that employer engagement was taking place and with the introduction of T Levels there would be a greater need to ensure more organisations were engaging in investing in the skills of their employees to ensure the city was where it needed to be in order to meet the demand of future labour markets


The Committee was advised that at present no one was able to articulate what the jobs of the green economy would be that required filling and the associated skills required for these jobs.  The GMCA had started a piece of work across all employment sectors to try and identify what these jobs would be in order to work with colleges and providers to deliver the training and skills development required


In terms of future European Social Funding, it was explained that the potential future impact was currently unknown and there were ongoing conversations with DfE to re-baseline the AEB budget to ensure that there was adequate funding in future years.




The Committee:-


(1)       Notes the report

(2)       Agrees to consider receiving a future report on the work being undertaken with employers in influencing adult education and skills     provision and co-investing in upskilling their workers at a future   meeting.

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