West Yorkshire Combined Authority to start commissioning providers for adult education services

Combined Authority to start to procure adult skills and training providers as part of West Yorkshire devolution deal.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority will start to procure adult skills and training providers from October, as it takes responsibility for the region’s Adult Education Budget (AEB).

As part of the region’s landmark devolution deal, the Combined Authority will take control of the £63 million annual AEB for West Yorkshire from August 2021, with commissioning of providers from October 2020 following a decision taken at the Combined Authority meeting on 4 September as part of a raft of measures to deliver a devolution deal for the region. 

This week saw a meeting of 185 providers attend an AEB supplier information, offering the opportunity to find out more about AEB devolution for West Yorkshire, the Combined Authority's AEB strategy and provider opportunities, the procurement process, and have questions answered. 

By taking over responsibility for the Adult Education Budget, the Combined Authority will be better able to support the economy and help disadvantaged adults, all adults including disadvantaged groups across the region to connect to opportunities in the labour market by providing training that increases their skill level. 

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: “Taking responsibility for the Adult Education Budget across West Yorkshire is a vital part of our plans to improve skills and life chances for the quarter of our workforce who have low or no qualifications.  

“As we recover from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must make every effort to build the kind of inclusive regional economy that works for everyone, is resilient enough to stand up to shocks, and offers opportunities for everyone to get on in life.”  

Following consultation with stakeholders in the adult education sector across West Yorkshire, which ran alongside an extensive consultation on the devolution deal, the Combined Authority has produced an updated Adult Education Budget Strategy. In total, 90% of respondents agreed with the AEB’s main priorities, while 82% agreed with the AEB Strategy’s approach to commissioning.  

Taking over control of the Adult Education Budget means the Combined Authority will be able to make sure that skills provision in West Yorkshire supports helps adults develop the skills they need to enter and stay in work, or enroll in an apprenticeship, traineeship, or other learning and meets the needs of the region’s businesses.  

It proposes that AEB funding is used to 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.  

It will also make learning more inclusive to support disadvantaged residents and widen the pool of talent for business, support the unemployed to gain and sustain employment, and unlock progression opportunities and career adaptability through skills - particularly for those on low wages and with insecure work. 

You can read the AEB Strategy in full here. The results of the AEB Strategy Consultation, which ran from 26 May to 12 July 2020, and the responses to comments and suggestions can be read here.