As someone who has both studied at and worked in Further Education colleges, I understand their significance for the region. For too long we have contented ourselves with a linear ‘one size fits all’ approach to educational training, it is time to switch the narrative and focus on providing people in the West of England with the skills and training they desperately need to access the high value jobs they deserve. That’s why I welcome the devolved post-19 education budget enabling WECA to work collaboratively to deliver the skills, training and apprenticeship opportunities to meet the work opportunities across the region.
As your West of England mayor, I will close the gap between education and employment, marrying the needs of educators and businesses with those of the workforce of the future. Through conversations and consultations with both sectors across the region, The New Collaborative Future Skills Programme will make skills and training work for you and your future career. My plan is opportunity driven, allowing everyone, regardless of background to access the expertise and know how they need so as to upskill and access jobs.
I commit to the Workforce For The Future programme, which will ensure that people and businesses are fully equipped with the tools and skills they need to develop, grow and remain the life-blood of the West of England’s economy. Additionally, I will drive forward our Future Bright initiative. This will allow those whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic and those looking for work to receive bespoke advice and support to develop their skills, increase their income and enhance their career prospects.
On top of this, these schemes will be complemented and operate in concordance with landmark Conservative initiatives such as the Kickstart Scheme, T-Levels, and greater apprenticeship funding.
We must also focus on nourishing and fostering skills growth at its roots, in education. As part of my commitment to all of you in the West of England, I will ensure a careers and enterprise advisor is available to every school in the region. This will make sure our young people are getting excellent advice about the breadth and diversity of careers options that are available across the region.
Apprenticeships and ongoing professional development continue to be vital to boosting our workforce and progressing in our careers. I will therefore work with employers to ensure that they can access the training they need to deliver provide the opportunities our region needs.
Education is the key to a fair and equitable society. Therefore as part of ‘Leading to Level-up’, I commit to continuing funding for new skills and language training. Working with our pioneering new Community Ambassadors we will ensure that those who desire training can access it. It is time to ensure that everyone, no matter their life experience can access equality of opportunity and make the most of a fresh start.
I understand that many of us learn and work at different paces and as someone with dyslexia I understand that much of our education system can be difficult. Education does not stop with children and I want to be the first West of England Mayor to ensure adults with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities are supported to access the jobs they desire.
It is my firm belief that this robust and ‘whole-system’ strategy that balances both sides of the worker-employer equation, will facilitate deep and long lasting educational and economic growth. It is time that our approach to skills and jobs starts working for you. It is not time to risk our future, it is time for progress.