Adult education providers funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) are changing the way they deliver training during the Covid-19 outbreak, so that local people continue to learn new skills.
The WMCA is responsible for the region’s £126m adult education budget (AEB), which was devolved from central Government in autumn 2019 to give local people the skills they need to get new and better jobs.
Training colleges and private providers have moved swiftly to deliver adult education courses online instead of face-to-face, or by telephone or post for those learners who do not have internet access.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “We know that this is a very difficult time, both for our adult learners and our education providers.
“It is, however, crucial that local people can continue to gain the qualifications and skills they need throughout this period, and the WMCA has been talking to all our providers about holding classroom sessions in a different way to make this happen.
“I am pleased to say that there has been a very positive response, and that a vast number of courses are being made available online.
“We have collated a list of all the training available for adult learners, and are publicising it on our Covid-19 support site. I would urge anyone who is interested to sign up now.”
Adult education providers funded by the WMCA include GB Training, based in Birmingham. Through the AEB, the company offers a range of training programmes including sector-based employability programmes for jobseekers, diplomas in customer service and health and social care, and functional maths and English courses for employed and unemployed learners.
Since September, the company has enabled 480 adults to learn new skills through the AEB, and 215 of these have gained new jobs. A further 190 people are currently in learning.
The company has bought more than 100 tablets for learners who do not have access to suitable equipment, to enable them to continue their learning online and submit work to their tutor during the Covid-19 shutdown.
It has made a number of changes to its training programmes, which include introducing online sessions to allow staff to host teaching sessions remotely, sharing presentations and activities on screen, and recording the sessions to enable learners to recap.
Learners can also join online workshops to develop their maths and English in a four-week rolling programme.
Other activities include virtual classrooms, providing links to online materials such as quizzes and games, and staying in touch with learners via FaceTime and video calls.
For those learners with no access to online learning, tutors are setting work using the telephone. Learners can submit work to their tutor by post, or email where they have access to this.
The company’s managing director, Lawrence Barton DL, said: “Our tutors and support staff are committed to maintaining positive learning experiences and supporting learners’ wellbeing, during very challenging times. Employers and learners alike are responding positively to new ways of working.”
Cllr George Duggins, WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills and leader of Coventry City Council, said: “The WMCA is working with adult training providers to make sure that local people continue to have access to the learning they need.
“While staying at home can be very challenging, it does offer opportunities to learn new skills online, and I hope as many people as possible will use the time to take advantage of the free training available.”
Residents can access links to online adult education training at https://beta.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/productivity-and-skills/online-resources/
This site is constantly being updated as more courses become available.