Work and Skills

Greater Manchester’s ground-breaking UCAS-style technical education portal set to go live in autumn

A ground-breaking new UCAS-style system aimed at helping young people across Greater Manchester gain access to apprenticeships, technical training or other employment opportunities has moved a step closer to reality.

The commitment from the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, to “level the playing field” for aspirational youngsters seeking training and development opportunities as an alternative to higher education will result in the launch of a new streamlined online system by the autumn.

The tender is open for bids to deliver a dynamic web portal which will enable learners to easily and quickly assess opportunities currently available outside academia, right across-the city region. It will match opportunities with applicants’ existing qualifications, experience and personal career aspirations.

Youngsters will be given a chance to explore upcoming apprenticeships or other training options and will be offered clear opportunities at the age of 16 and again at 18 to express an interest in or apply for technical education courses or other available training that offers a route into the career of their choice.

Additionally, the new system will benefit local businesses and other employers, who will be able to share their diverse opportunities easily and speedily, including work shadowing, mentoring, open days and inspirational careers talks.

Andy said: “For too long A-levels as a stepping stone to a degree have been perceived as the be all and end all once you reach 16 years of age. Knowing where to find out about other options and apply for them hasn’t always been easy.

“I have been clear for a long time that apprenticeships, work shadowing opportunities and other forms of training are just as essential to the world of work as A-levels or a university education – perhaps more so for some careers. For too long technical training hasn’t received the recognition it deserves as a valuable route into skilled employment – this will no longer be the case here in Greater Manchester as we know the fantastic opportunities on offer for young people and employers alike.

“I am delivering on my manifesto commitment to make it simple and straightforward for ambitious and aspirational young people to access quality, cutting-edge and valuable technical education courses to help propel them into a skilled job. It’s about offering young learners the best available options and the best start to their professional lives.”

In addition to assessing and applying for opportunities, the UCAS-style system will enable users to develop a Curriculum for Life, where young people will own and develop a digital portfolio, acting as a showcase to prospective employers demonstrating skills, experience and examples of past work in addition to academic qualifications.

Crucially, the new online tool will track young people’s training progress and progression plans will be captured and recorded to support applications for opportunities and transitions in and out of education, training and employment.

Sean Fielding, GMCA Lead Member for Education, Skills, Employment and Apprenticeships, added: “This UCAS-style system will be one of the first of its kind in the country and will change the way young people enter further education or start work.

“It’s another step on our journey to make Greater Manchester one of the best places to grow up and get on.

“At the same time, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is preparing to take control of the £92.6m devolved Adult Education Budget this summer, which will help to ensure that all adults are equipped to enter work or to progress to further learning. Taken together, these developments show how we will develop the talent and skills of our residents throughout their lives, as the key to unlocking Greater Manchester’s ambitions for our people and our place.”

The Mayor has also outlined his determination – working alongside Greater Manchester’s schools, colleges and businesses – to deliver improved bus and travel services, including making available to all 16-18 year olds in Greater Manchester a free bus pass from this September.

The pass will dramatically reduce costs to parents and enable young people to more easily access work opportunities, training, education and skills.

Joanne Roney, Lead Chief Executive for Education, Skills, Employment and Apprenticeships, said: “At the heart of the GMCA vision and strategy is ensuring young people are given the best start in life and nobody is left behind.

“This innovative platform will make it easier for all our young people to find out about opportunities that exist in this fantastic city-region and for businesses to connect to our young people.

“Here in Greater Manchester we’re innovative, ambitious and are doing things differently. Our vision is to make our city-region a place where all children are given the best start in life and young people grow up inspired to exceed expectations.”

Article Published: 09/04/2019 14:14 PM