The Greater Manchester Combined Authority will be using almost £4million of funding available after three schemes (the Youth Contract Expansion, Greater Manchester Apprenticeship Grant for Employers and Greater Manchester City Deal) came in under budget to support the creation of apprenticeships in the city-region.
It will also be used to build on the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham’s ambition to create a UCAS-style application process to support young people to make informed career choices about all routes, including apprenticeships.
The Small-to-Medium Enterprise (SME) Apprenticeships Support Package will help smaller employers that have yet to engage with apprenticeships and require additional incentive and support to do so. It will work with at least 1,500 employers to create at least 700 new apprenticeship opportunities by using levy transfers, grants and workforce planning advice to remove barriers.
The funding will also be used to support apprenticeships and skills growth in priority areas, such as digital, health and social care, finance and construction to create a minimum of 500 high quality apprenticeship opportunities. The GMCA will facilitate partnerships in these priority sectors between employers and apprenticeship and skills providers to create a pipeline of talent that meets employer needs.
The Greater Manchester Apprentice Ambassador Programme will also be relaunched, helping to engage potential apprentices with accurate information and peer-to-peer advice. This will see a team of apprentice advocates for Greater Manchester that are trained to promote opportunities by sharing their experiences. These will be part of the work being carried out under the Greater Manchester Apprenticeship Hub and the #SeeDifferent campaign.
Underpinning all of this is work is our aim of ensuring our young people have the right information to make choices about their future career path. An element of the funding will be used to expand the work of BridgeGM, which links businesses to schools to ensure all young people have a high quality interaction with the work of work and gain valuable careers education.
This links with the development of the UCAS-style system, which will make technical education such as apprentices more accessible and improve their perception.
Councillor Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council and GMCA lead for Education and Skills, said: “We are determined here in Greater Manchester to make sure our young people are equipped for life and also that there are good jobs available for people to progress and develop, and we can’t achieve either of these goals without apprenticeships.
“It is not just about apprenticeships though, it is about the right apprenticeships for the right people and this is why these programmes are so important. Around 80 per cent of apprenticeship opportunities in Greater Manchester are with small-to-medium enterprises and we need to work with these employers to give people the best chance to start or develop their career.
“In addition to helping give people essential skills and career paths, apprenticeships can also give employers the talented workforce and skills they need. This in turn benefits all of us in the city-region and can contribute to us having a thriving economy with the right jobs and opportunities for everyone.”