The West Yorkshire Combined Authority (Combined Authority) has announced a landmark partnership with the West Yorkshire colleges, including Bradford College, setting out a joint plan to align college training provision with the needs of the Leeds City Region economy, including the £56 million per annum Adult Education Budget.
The partnership, formalised through unique ‘Delivery Agreements’ for each college, is pioneering in its degree of collaboration and its comprehensive targets and actions, making it the first of its kind in the UK.
Developed in partnership between the Combined Authority and each of the seven the colleges the agreements publicly outline how each college will contribute to the Leeds City Region Employment and Skills Plan Skilled People, Better Jobs 2016-2020 and subsequently the needs of the City Region economy.
The Combined Authority is made up of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield and York councils plus the Leeds city region enterprise partnership. The seven involved are Bradford College Group, Calderdale College, Kirklees College, Leeds City College, Leeds College of Building, Shipley College and Wakefield College.
The targets set for each college aim to address the acute skills shortages faced by the City Region’s key sectors: manufacturing and engineering, health and care, infrastructure and digital. The agreements mean the colleges will increase levels of apprenticeships starts, pledging to also increase higher and degree apprenticeship provision.
Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Skills lead for the Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council said: "I am immensely pleased to see the launch and implementation of these Delivery Agreements for West Yorkshire.
“It is paramount that our young people, particularly those hardest to reach, have access to training and qualifications that will lead them to rewarding employment. By realigning this £56m annual spend we can ensure that young people have the right skills to gain access to well paid jobs that meet the demands of our businesses.
“This has been a truly collaborative approach and one that I believe is testament to the strength of the cross-sector partnerships we have built here. We’re immensely grateful to the colleges and their local authorities for working with us to achieve this milestone.”
Andy Welsh, CEO of Bradford College Group said: "As one of the UK’s foremost colleges for high level skills we are keen to develop our career-focused provision further and in alignment with the needs of the City Region economy.
"In partnership with the Combined Authority and with a renewed focus, we will continue to work to support the needs of Bradford residents and beyond, from the most disadvantaged to those accessing degree level training. Bradford College Group fully endorses this partnership.”
Ian Billyard, Principal of Leeds College of Building said: “Our Delivery Agreement with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority is another exciting milestone for Leeds College of Building.
“As the only specialist construction college in the country, the positive destination and skills of our students are crucial to the future delivery of the £13bn in major infrastructure schemes currently in the pipeline in Leeds City Region. Working together with the Combined Authority we have identified how we will improve our links with employers, grow our apprenticeship offer and develop our pathways to higher level learning to address the skills shortages in our sector and bring affordable, high-quality education to the young people of the North.
“We look forward to working with the Combined Authority to achieve our shared aspirations for the City Region.”
Julie Colley, Deputy CEO of Avalon Group and member of the Leeds City Region Employment and Skills Panel said: "A steady pipeline of talent for health and care is crucial to the economic future and wellbeing of the country.
“The health and care sector faces a number of challenges in the near future; our population is ageing, our National Health Service (NHS) is under pressure and we do not yet fully understand the impact of Brexit in a sector reliant on migrant workers. The research undertaken by the Combined Authority has recognised this sector, along with manufacturing & engineering, infrastructure and digital, as one with access to a range of diverse and rewarding careers and I am greatly encouraged to see these challenges addressed through this brilliant partnership between colleges and authority.”