West Midlands Mayor Andy Street set for crucial skills deal talks
The West Midlands is set to enter negotiations with the Government over a new multi-million pound skills deal for the region.
Mayor Andy Street says the talks will be crucial to the region's prosperity, having pledged to bring an end to the chronic skills shortage as his number one target for the next 12 months.
It comes after Education Secretary Damian Hinds gave the West Midlands a double boost to enhance technical education.
He announced that three Midlands bids for institutes of technology had been shortlisted – including one from Dudley College – and that eight of the 52 providers to deliver the pioneering 'T-levels' are based in the region.
'T-levels' are the Government’s flagship policy to boost technical education and are touted as being equal in quality and prestige to A-levels.
They will provide young people with a choice of technical or academic education from age 16.
Mr Street said: “I have repeatedly said that going into my second year as Mayor, skills is the biggest challenge we must tackle as a region.
“Almost every business I speak to in the West Midlands tells me skills is the biggest challenge they face.
“In the last year, the West Midlands has negotiated a ‘devolution deal’ with Government to secure new powers and funding for the region and a ‘housing deal’ which brought more than £300m to the West Midlands to supercharge our house building.
“Next on the agenda is a deal around skills which can help us to provide the adult training and skills provision to help our region’s key sectors, particularly advanced engineering and construction.
“Quite simply, we need a deal that ensures our young people get the skills they need for jobs now and throughout their lifetimes.
“The news about the shortlisted projects for the institutes of technology and the 'T-level' providers is a huge boost ahead of this as it demonstrates Government is on the same page when it comes to realigning our skills agenda to meet the needs of our businesses.”