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£27m funding secured for region to provide bootcamps to help people to upskill and land a job

Published: Wednesday 21 Feb 2024

At least 6,000 more people are to get the chance to learn the skills they need to land a quality job following the announcement today of around £27m for the region’s innovative bootcamp training programme.

The Government funding will be used by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to run more of the bootcamps which specialise in upskilling people for work in fast growing industries like advanced manufacturing, digital, green technology and the creative sector.

The announcement was made by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the WMCA on a visit to see theatre technician bootcampers in action at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre.

He was joined by former England and Wolves footballer Steve Bull and TV presenter Suzi Perry, who are both patrons of The Grand, and Emmerdale actress, Fiona Ward and actress Vera Chok, who are currently performing at the theatre in 2.22 Ghost Story.

l-r: Dara Hughes, Tegan Payne, Angela Moran, Suzi Perry, Steve Bull, Eden Garrattley, Sophie Jolly (Bootcamp manager at Solihull College & University Centre) Front row: Fiona Wade, Laura Gilbert, Andy Street, Andre Reid, Vera Chok at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton.

l-r: Dara Hughes, Tegan Payne, Angela Moran, Suzi Perry, Steve Bull, Eden Garrattley, Sophie Jolly (Bootcamp manager at Solihull College & University Centre) Front row: Fiona Wade, Laura Gilbert, Andy Street, Andre Reid, Vera Chok at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton.

The funding is the largest of its kind in the UK and is almost double the £15.5m the WMCA received for bootcamps last year, which helped 4,600 unemployed adults and others looking to upskill.

Since the devolution of the Adult Education Budget in 2019, the WMCA has secured more than £700m for jobs and skills in the region.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “With better qualifications comes higher-quality jobs and ultimately a better quality of life, which is why - using our devolved pot of Adult Education cash - we’ve used all the tools at our disposal to make incredible strides in helping citizens across the West Midlands get better qualified.

“We successfully delivered on our 100,000 jobs plan, and we’ve seen the number of people qualified to level 3 or higher increase by more than 10% in just three years.

“A key part of our success has been these bootcamps, with more than 4,600 adults trained in the last year alone through this method. In fact, we have been so successful in getting people trained through bootcamps that the Government has now awarded us a further £27m to roll out more courses – the highest allocation of any UK region and almost twice what we were awarded last year.

“This is a huge vote of confidence in the West Midlands and shows how we truly are leading the way as Britain’s training hub.”

The bootcamps are free of charge for West Midlands residents and are carefully designed to meet the skills needs of businesses operating in fast growing sectors where demand for skilled workers is high.

Andre Reid, currently taking part in the theatre technician bootcamp, said: “I have a creative venue space in Walsall that I’d been struggling to develop and felt I lost some of my creative spark and energy. Being part of this bootcamp has helped me to meet new and creative people and get the skills and creative sparkle back so that I can create the space that that the community needs. Opportunities such as this are great for local people to feel a sense of community and direction.”

Andre Reid, a theatre technician bootcamper

Andre Reid, a theatre technician bootcamper

The region’s creative sector is one of those sectors and badly needs a more highly skilled workforce. Theatre technician bootcamps delivered in partnership with the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton, have been instrumental in getting local people into the industry with hands-on training and experience.

Cllr George Duggins, WMCA portfolio lead for skills and productivity and leader of Coventry City Council, said: “Bootcamps offer a great opportunity for people to gain useful skills in specialist areas and in addition provides them with the tools they will need to get support them into employment following completion of the course. Often networking opportunities will be part of the course and help learners secure future placements and jobs.

“This substantial funding will enable us to continue and further develop an offer for people to retrain and upskill, supporting our aim to create a talented workforce and further strengthen the backbone of our region’s economy.”

Steve Bull said, “I have been involved with the Grand Theatre for many years – It’s a brilliant place to be. Getting involved in the theatre technician bootcamps is an excellent way of getting local people into the industry and it’s great to hear that the combined authority has secured the funding to provide a range of bootcamps to help people get the skills they need.”

Fiona Wade, said, “There would not be a show without the theatre technicians that help to make things happen behind the scenes. A lot of people think they may not be able to work in theatre and these bootcamps are a great way to become involved no matter what your age.”

If you are interested in learning more about WMCA funded bootcamps, please click here: https://www.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/productivity-and-skills/.

Theatre Technician bootcamps are run in partnership with Solihull College and University Centre.

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