West Yorkshire takes next step in radical shake-up of adult skills provision

Combined Authority gets ready for devolution of Adult Education Budget from August 2021.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has agreed governance arrangements for £63 million annual Adult Education Budget as it looks to take over responsibility for adult skills and training across the region from August 2021.  

The Adult Education Budget (AEB) is a key part of the West Yorkshire devolution deal agreed between the region’s leaders and government in March. It will mean that adult skills funding is directed to areas of need and can address skills gaps, as identified in the AEB Strategy which was published in September (LINK)  

The governance structure will ensure that decision-making is member-led, robust, transparent and mitigates any potential conflicts of interest.  

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 economic shocks, and offers opportunities for everyone to get on in life.”  

By taking over responsibility for AEB the Combined Authority will be better able to support the economy and all adults across the region, including disadvantaged groups, to 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.  

AEB governance will be strategically led by the Combined Authority through an AEB Performance Board, with advisory support by the Employment and Skills Panel. Local authorities will identify needs and gaps in skills provision for their communities that can be met through AEB funding. This information will be used to acquire appropriate levels of provision to respond to local need.

New AEB Performance and Partnerships Groups will be established in each local authority area with the aim of bringing together delivery partners and relevant stakeholders to monitor delivery and provide advice to the Combined Authority where provision needs to be addressed. Reports from this group will feed into the local authority Employment and Skills Boards and the Combined Authority’s AEB Performance Board.

Any future changes to the AEB Strategy, which sets out key priorities for the devolved AEB, must be made by the Combined Authority. 

AEB funding will be 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. 

More information about procurement, the AEB Strategy and the results of the AEB Strategy Consultation, which ran from 26 May to 12 July 2020, can be read here: https://www.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/aeb/