The West of England Recovery Taskforce has welcomed a raft of new investments and initiatives to help residents with the training and skills they need to improve their job prospects as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new measures, announced by West of England Mayor Tim Bowles include:
- Unemployed people being offered learning and work experience opportunities with businesses where there are vacancies;
- 400 new A-Level equivalent qualifications in the region thanks to the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee; and
- A new £2m digital skills investment programme to help give residents and businesses the skills they need.
The package of investments builds on detailed work completed by the Regional Recovery Taskforce and delivers some of the early commitments set out in the West of England recovery plan.
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles said: “Everyone deserves the chance to secure a good, well paid job, no matter what their background or challenges. This is central to my regional economic recovery plan, so that all our residents have the support they need to put wages in their pockets from a decent job, here in the West of England.
“The extra funding we have secured from the Government, in addition to new schemes we have designed and funded here in the West of England will help secure our recovery and build on the progress we are already making so the West of England emerges strongly from the pandemic.”
Additional Funding in the Adult Education Budget for the 2020/21 academic year will be used to protect, support and create jobs, providing education and training opportunities for unemployed people and those in insecure or low-paid jobs. The scheme will also support progression into the region’s growing sectors by working with employers looking for new staff and match them with people; training them for new roles and guaranteeing them an interview.
Combined Authorities will play a leading role in delivering the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, which will involve provide over 400 new Level 3 qualifications (equivalent to two full A-levels) to help people bridge skills gaps and find sustainable employment.
The new Digital Skills Investment Programme will provide bespoke training to residents who have been negatively affected by the pandemic with the access and confidence to build new digital skills, while also helping businesses to meet their skills needs.
The new measures were unveiled at the 8th meeting of the Economic Recovery Taskforce which authored the region’s recovery action plan to protect and secure jobs, while building back greener and creating opportunities for all residents to share in the recovery. The taskforce is chaired by the West of England Mayor and represents key sectors that contribute to the region’s economy.
The new measures will be funded by the Combined Authority after it secured additional funding from Government for Adult Education, and provided additional funding from its own investment fund to protect and secure decent, well-paid jobs following the pandemic. These schemes are in addition to the £99m already committed by WECA over the next four years.
Taskforce member Joanne Rumley, a partner at Foot Anstey, said: “We know that sadly some people are losing their jobs, but there are still a number of businesses in our region that are recruiting and can’t find staff with the skills they need.
“This investment is about creating new opportunities for both our residents to get the skills they need now and for the future and for our region’s businesses to secure local talent to meet current employment demand. This includes new job and training placements, connecting people to new job opportunities, providing career coaching, and access to adult education. We need to make sure we have a ready workforce with the skills our businesses need and that will involve addressing issues around digital exclusion to ensure equality of opportunity”.
You can find out more through WECA’s new web portal which lists services and training available in the West of England.
The portal can help you to find the right support – whether you’re starting work for the first time, looking for a new job, or looking to progress at work. It includes a number of downloadable that bring together local, regional and national skills, training and employment services.
Alex Richards (CEO), Western Training Providers Network, said: “Bringing to life an employability and skills portal is just such a great idea. The more we can empower people to find personal solutions to their skills needs the better; and enabling influencers, coaches, mentors, friends and helpers to reach so many more people who don’t possess those research skills is even more powerful.
“A fantastic concept, our WTPN members will be encouraged to put their courses and support on the portal for all to use, creating a living skills and support map.”