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West Midlands Local Skills Report Annex B - Evidence Base 2022

Conclusion - key findings

  • Disparities in the demand and supply for certain NVQ level jobs with there being an oversupply of NVQ1/3 and undersupply of NVQ2/4.

  • Apprenticeship recruitment and numbers have fallen during the pandemic which has left few choices for young people especially, who wish to pursue vocational FE.

  • Whilst apprenticeship numbers were increasing before the pandemic, a large proportion of these were accounted for by large companies offering further training to pre-existing employees, not new starter opportunities, thereby shutting out young people who are trying to access training and work.

  • The West Midlands is behind the UK average in terms of qualification levels, with a larger share of working-age people without any formal qualifications. The Department for Education’s long-term forecasts project that the West Midlands will also be the slowest region to reduce ‘no qualifications’ status.

  • Covid-19 and resulting economic turmoil have caused a very sharp increase in claimant count compared, albeit less than the UK average.

  • Further Education course provision had changed little from year to year prior to the pandemic, and the distribution of subjects offered is still very similar to the UK average. This indicates that there is a lot of scope for better tailoring the local offer to fit the needs of the region.

  • The gender pay gap has been narrower and improving faster than the UK average. However, it is still significant. Men and women are equally likely to pursue further education or an apprenticeship, but there are significant differences in the courses chosen. Further education is a vital ladder to opportunity for Black and Asian students in particular.

  • At most levels of further education provision, students take courses at the same level as their previous qualifications or one level higher. However, high-level further education courses are often taken by students already qualified at a yet higher level, for example undergraduate or master’s degree graduates taking management or other specialised training courses. This implies that there is a gap in the further education ladder around level 4.