West Yorkshire Combined Authority invests over £1million into the future of a skilled workforce for the construction industry

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire visited Leeds College of Building on Friday (8.10.21), to celebrate the college receiving over £1million of grant funding from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Adult Education Budget (AEB), allocated to give adults the skills needed by West Yorkshire’s construction industry. The Mayor also took a tour of the new South Bank campuses, one of which was part funded by the Combined Authority.

11 October 2021

The funding allocated to Leeds College of Building is part of the wider AEB funding to ensure skills provision in West Yorkshire supports adults to develop the skills needed to enter and stay in work, or enrol in an apprenticeship, or other learning and meets the needs of the region’s businesses. 

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “We’re now seeing the fantastic benefits of devolution and how we can strategically use funding to benefit our local economy and the people who live here.”   

As the economy re-opens, the construction industry is recovering strongly, with more than 70,000 people in West Yorkshire alone, already working in construction. However, many employers are still struggling to recruit people with the right skills.  

Therefore, I’m pleased to see we are providing people with excellent education and training facilities and courses whereby they can gain the skills needed by industry.“ 

Leeds College of Building is the only further education college in the UK which specialises in the construction industry. It has two campuses, the North Street campus, and the South Bank campus in Hunslet. 

Previous to the college receiving grant funding to support adult learners, the Combined Authority allocated £11.9million towards the construction of the new build ‘South Bank 2 Campus’ and the part refurbishment of the North Street Campus. The funding was from the £79million Skills Capital investment into Further Education colleges across the city region. The Skills Capital Programme was part of the Leeds City Region Growth Deal (a £1billion package of Government investment to accelerate economic growth and create jobs.) They also received a £1.45million loan from the Combined Authority. 

The overall aim of the project was to consolidate operations and rationalise on to two sites in Leeds (the North Street and the South Bank campuses) and to provide world-class education and training facilities for students and the construction industry to help meet the growing needs and skills gaps in the industry. 

Derek Whitehead, Principal & CEO of Leeds College of Building, said: “The capital investment from West Yorkshire Combined Authority towards our Phase 2 South Bank campus was a welcomed significant contribution to further the College’s strategy to help meet the growing construction education and training needs of students and employers, both regionally and nationally.  

“The South Bank 2 campus is home to a range of courses including Heating and Ventilation, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Plumbing, Building Information Modelling, as well as accelerating the ever-expanding area of Construction Higher Education courses.  Funding also provided an opportunity to refurbish part of the North Street campus, which now has one of the largest Painting & Decorating training facilities in the UK.  

“Adults, 16–18-year-olds, apprentices and Higher Education students make up the 6,000 students that attend the College each year. I am pleased that Leeds College of Building, together with excellent support from WYCA and employers, are helping to meet the needs of students and industry.” 

The Combined Authority has worked with the college since 2017 on a Delivery Agreement programme. The programme facilitates a strategic discussion and monitoring of how the college provision is responding to key skills priorities across the City Region and its own locality. 

Previous to the West Yorkshire Devolution deal, adult skills saw a significant reduction in funding, impacting the training opportunities of many adults across West Yorkshire. Now the West Yorkshire Combined Authority has taken responsibility for the region’s £65million annual Adult Education Budget; funding can be assigned towards skills priorities that have been developed closely with partners including Local Authorities, colleges such as Leeds College of Building and employers to ensure funding is used to meet local skills and employment needs. 

AEB funding will be used to make learning more inclusive and increase the supply of skills to support key sectors, improve West Yorkshire’s resilience by identifying and delivering the skills needed for the future, and benefit the 380,000 people - or 26% of West Yorkshire’s working age population - who have low or no qualifications. 

Further information on the Adult Education Budget can be found at: Adult Education Budget - Combined Authority | Unlocking potential, accelerating growth (westyorks-ca.gov.uk)