Skills for Growth Overview

Funded by the European Social Fund (external website), Skills for Growth addressed employer-identified skills gaps in Greater Manchester between 2020-2023. 

More than 25,000 individuals and 3,000 businesses were supported to fill talent needs in priority sectors.   

The priority industries the programme focused on include: 

  • Digital 
  • Construction (particularly retrofit and green technologies) 
  • Manufacturing 
  • Health and social care 
  • Logistics 
  • Education 
  • Creative, technology and culture 

Greater Manchester’s strategic priorities were the drivers for the programme, specifically those identified in the Local Industrial Strategy (internal web page) and Greater Manchester strategy (internal web page) around supporting business growth and delivering an integrated approach to employment and skills.  

In addition, the programme supported providers of education and training to better meet the needs of residents and employers through the creation of new partnerships and innovative methods of delivery.  

The programme enabled: 

  • New Level 3+ qualifications tailored to employer requirements.  
  • Career progression through skills training aligned to business demands. 
  • Targeted support for priority groups including older residents, women, and low paid workers. 
  • Partnerships with SMEs and microbusinesses to build a strong local talent pipeline. 

The programme achieved:

  • Training provided to over 25,000 learners, fostering personal and professional development.
  • Direct support extended to over 3,000 businesses, promoting economic growth.
  • Around 1,500 businesses engaged with for real-time labour market and skills intel.
  • 82% of learners who enrolled went on to complete a course.
  • 67% of learners enrolled in a course then progressed onto further studies or higher-level roles.

Independent survey satisfaction figures:

  • 91% of participants were satisfied with the training they received.
  • 91% of participants at the end of the training said they were confident performing in their current role -an increase of 14% on pre-training survey results.
  • 80% of participants said the training was relevant to their job.
  • Following the training, more than 80% of participants were more confident in their abilities to learn.

At the beginning of the programme, GMCA challenged students from UCEN Manchester to put together an animation explaining the Skills for Growth programme. This was a great way for the students to create an end-of-semester project in response to a live brief – watch the video below for more information. 

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How did it work? 

There were four key ambitions for Skills for Growth, which formed a constant loop throughout the three-year programme including; 

  • Developing the skills system
  • Gathering intelligence from business
  • Supporting individuals 
  • Delivering learning 

In addition to the training courses on offer, GMCA commissioned The Growth Company (external web page) to deliver Skills for Growth - SME Support (external web page), which gave businesses free tailored advice on upskilling staff and improving productivity as well as offering expert consultations to help with business planning. 

The Growth Company also developed a Skills Map, making it easier for residents, employers and providers to share and search for fully-funded learning opportunities across the city-region. 

Throughout the programme, GMCA gathered intelligence from businesses, which was used to shape training programmes. This unique and truly employer-led approach meant that training opportunities were fit for purpose and plugged gaps and hard-to-fill vacancies. 

Who delivered training? 

  • Digital Skills for Growth and Productivity - UK Skills Academy (Sister organisation to North West Skills Academy)  
  • Digital Careers Upskill Programme - Serco

  • Health and Social Care - Acorn Training
  • Allies in Cancer Care training - The University of Salford 

  • Early Years - Acorn Training 

  • LEAN Manufacturing and Management Skills - Instep UK

  • Logistics Skills - Seetec Outsource

  • Leadership and management within the construction sector - SB Skills Solutions Ltd 
  • Accelerating Net Zero opportunities - The Growth Company

  • ‘In Focus’ creative courses - Reform Radio 

  • Project Management for All - GC Education and Skills - The Growth Company
  • Powering Up Professional Skills (PUPS) - The Growth Company 

  • Blue Light Services - Seetec Outsource

  • Next Gen Security and Events - NGTC Group