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West Midlands Regional Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering Training Plan

What will we do

Increase the pathways and qualifications offered through our skills funding to match the jobs available.

In 2021, WMCA spent £4.9m of its devolved Adult Education Budget on manufacturing and engineering training and qualifications. Nearly 30 colleges and providers across the region are currently involved in delivering this training, however, most deliver a limited range of qualifications, mainly in engineering. We want to extend the range of training to cover the breadth of available occupations in the sector. For example, mechanical engineers, biomedical engineers, welders.

Much of the current offer takes place on a full-time basis during the day, restricting participation mainly to younger adults who are not working or claiming benefits. As a result of the pandemic, more training is now being delivered on-line. We want to build on this to offer training in more flexible ways, with less on-site attendance, so that those in work or with family, caring or other responsibilities will be able to fit study around these commitments.

We will also be using new funding to support new engineering and manufacturing provision.

Through these funding streams, we are looking to:

  • Increase the volume of level 3 training offered across the region to support more residents gain higher-level skills
  • Introduce a new bootcamp offer that offers accelerated training routes for new entrants into the sector, supports the existing workforce with career progression, and responds to changing the skills needs of businesses as processes and technology evolve
  • Increase the number of flexibly delivered training opportunities – part time, accelerated, blended to widen access
  • Increase number of workers accessing training and qualifications that improve their pay and job prospects
  • Increase the volume and breadth of Sector-based Work Academy Programmes (SWAPs) supporting more people to move into entry level roles and addressing the labour market and skills needs of businesses
  • Introduce a region-wide leadership and management programme for SMEs in the sector, with a focus on improving productivity, sustainability, and tech adoption
  • Increase business engagement with the NetZero agenda including through the delivery of NetZero, Energy Transition and Leadership and Management bootcamps, and by providing opportunity to shape future skills training in line with the evolving needs of the sector.

Work with regional universities to increase pathways to higher education

We are seeking to work with providers across further and higher education to:

  • Create more effective progression routes for residents to develop their skills and gain qualifications

  • Introduce more part time opportunities at level 4 and 5 that meet the skills needs of the WM employers in the sector.

Work with employers, Local Authorities and anchor networks to increase opportunities for disadvantaged groups

The West Midlands labour market was hit hard by the pandemic – in part because of its dependency on automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, leisure and hospitality sectors. Existing inequalities were exacerbated, resulting in higher levels of unemployment

in areas such as East Birmingham and higher youth unemployment in places such as Wolverhampton. Young people and ethnic minorities were hit hardest – particularly those least qualified and living in areas with already high levels of unemployment and deprivation.

Since then, we have seen overall levels of employment rising, unemployment falling and record vacancies across the economy. But significant challenges remain. Many employers report significant labour and skills shortages, and while some parts of the region have bounced back, others are recovering much more slowly, with the risk that some people and places are left behind.

Addressing these challenges to create opportunities for all will involve working with a wide range of partners, including:

  • Work with Job Centre Plus to offer all young people additional training to prepare them for jobs or apprenticeships

  • Work with West Midlands training providers to align their delivery to the plan

  • Increase the number of pre-employment training opportunities

Priority Groups

All of our work aims to address challenges such as comparatively lower pay and productivity for our West Midlands residents. However, our internal insight work and public facing documents such as the Local Skills Report highlights the need to focus on specific groups, based on long term trends and the impact of the pandemic. These are:

  • Unemployed (4.6%), NEET young people (4.8% 18–24-year-olds), residents in
    low paid work (20%), those with lived experience; disabled people (22.3%); recently made redundant.