LCR Combined Authority and Further Education Colleges commit to working together to drive growth in the City Region

Posted 11th January 2017
7 minutes read
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The Liverpool City Region Area Based Review report was published today.

Area Based Reviews are taking place across the UK. The reviews aim to ensure that an area’s Further Education (FE) colleges remain financially resilient in the face of funding pressures and to ensure they can continue to deliver credible, high-quality professional and technical training.

The publication of the Area Based Review report is an important milestone in Liverpool City Region’s devolution journey. This paves the way for the transfer of significant powers which will see the Adult Education Budget devolved to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority from 2018. This means that from next year the Liverpool City Region will take a direct role in ensuring that college education and training continues to meet current and future skills needs of employers and learners.

The Liverpool City Region Area Review was overseen by a local steering group, chaired by Cllr Ian Maher, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s portfolio lead for Employment and Skills. The Review made sixteen recommendations which include the proposed merger of St Helens and Knowsley College, along with proposed mergers of Hugh Baird and South Sefton Colleges and Southport and King George V Colleges leading to the creation of a single Sefton College by August 2018. Birkenhead Sixth Form College will submit an application for approval to convert to academy status; similarly the preferred option for Carmel College is to submit an application to covert to academy status or if further information indicates this is not in the best interests of the college, Carmel will continue as a standalone sixth form college.

Key recommendations contained within the report include a plan to grow apprenticeships, the development of a City Region wide advanced and higher level technical skills prospectus, providing a greater choice for learners as well as meeting local employment needs, along with the establishment of a Careers Hub to improve careers information. The report also recommends improved collaboration across all providers on provision for post 16 learners with special educational needs and disabilities and in developing more cohesive and accessible entry routes for learners with low level skills.

The report recommendations were unanimously accepted by the local steering group and clearly demonstrate to Government that the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, the Local Enterprise Partnership and Further Education Colleges are working together to make decisions that impact on its economy and jobs.

The published report and full list of recommendations can be found on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s website.

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will retain its leadership role in driving forward the changes and through a Local Implementation Group, it will oversee how the recommendations are contributing to improving the local area – for residents, businesses and learning providers alike.

Cllr Ian Maher, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority portfolio lead for Employment and Skills said “Our priority is to ensure that our further education offer meets the needs of both businesses and residents, learners can access high quality and relevant training, our learning providers offer unique and sought-after specialisms, and that our facilities are fit for purpose and sustainable. The recommendations in the review clearly support these aims and I look forward to seeing this work progress over the coming months and years. This has been a thorough process with clear recommendations that will now be progressed and monitored through the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.”

Asif Hamid, Interim Chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Throughout the review, the LEP, through its LEP Board skills lead Kate Willard, has ensured that the views of the businesses community were captured and fed into the process, making sure that businesses were fully engaged and that, as much as possible, the priorities to be delivered reflected their needs. Business views and issues fed in were invaluable to the review and identified a number of skills priorities for the City Region that align with our growth sectors including logistics, science and technology and digital skills. We will now work closely with the Combined Authority in order to help lead, shape and engineer skills provision to meet the needs of business now and into the future.”

Jette Burford, Chair of the Merseyside Colleges Association (MCA), added “The MCA Colleges fully engaged with the Area Review process and welcomed the opportunity to assist in shaping the further education landscape in the Liverpool City Region. The MCA supports the recommendations contained in the report, and the colleges are fully committed to achieving the ambitions that have been proposed within it.”