The West Midlands has been selected as the first combined authority for the Skills Agreement, as this is the region where the qualification challenge is most acute, according to the DfE. Media coverage of the agreement has shown that other combined authorities have the door open to opening negotiations with the DfE on similar agreements – the government should put these rumours into practice. Given the central role that skills play in implementing the government`s industrial strategy, the Ministry of Education should now, more than ever, work with other local services and authorities to ensure that each location has the tools it needs to meet its challenges. The common authority should therefore ensure that the new powers agreement is coordinated in parallel with existing initiatives in order to complement and support the offer already proposed. Similarly, the new agreement should be used in a manner consistent with the adult education budget when it is delegated in 2019/20, as both programmes cover similar areas and pursue the same objective. This would help maximize available resources. We will give people the skills they need to drive regional growth. Read the stories of people who are already taking advantage of the programs put in place to fill the skills gap and reduce unemployment in the West Midlands. This competency agreement sets out how the government will work with the West Midlands Combined Authority to address qualification challenges in the region.
The new agreement includes a range of education and qualification initiatives, ranging from improving learning in small businesses to improving career guidance and cooperation between businesses and schools, to investing in local universities and promoting adult education. Since their election last year, metro mayors have consistently set out to gain greater powers in the areas of education and skills, with the sole aim of shoulderless to the government. After months of tension, the agreement could mean a change on the part of the Ministry of Education (DfE). As a region, we face the challenge of low productivity and lack of qualifications, both at the lower end and at the upper end of the skill range. The construction industry is experiencing new growth across the country and 224,000 jobs are expected to be created over the next five years. This represents an additional 2,320 jobs over the next five years in the West Midlands. The demand for construction workers is high and there is a shortage of skilled labour. “The West Midlands is the engine of our thriving economy, but we want to ensure that more people on the ground have the skills to progress in life, while increasing the productivity and technical know-how of the region,” said Education Minister Damian Hinds. “This new skills agreement will provide a good investment for young people and adults to learn, improve, recycle and use exciting jobs in areas such as construction, cybersecurity and digital technology.” One of the main challenges raised at our Skills Roundtable in Birmingham earlier this year is the lack of coordination between existing initiatives in the city.