Local Skills Report and Skills Action Plan 2021/22

GMLPF represents members on the local Employment & Skills Board. The ESB is required by Government to publish a Local Skills Plan for 2021/22 which sets out the current needs and opportunities in the City Region together with a Skills Action Plan to address these issues. In recent years, the LCR CA has produced a series of Skills Investment Statements which have done largely the same job, to identify the key trends and employment and skills needs that providers locally and nationally should respond to.

The Local Skills Report is largely analytical and is based upon the summary presentation on the current labour market. There is a lot of detail that Government guidance dictates must be in the plan but the LCR CA is keen to obtain feedback from stakeholders and our members on the plan as it stands. The current working draft sets out this data and narrative: we are still working on a number of the issues that you have raised over recent weeks e.g. what support is available for 18-year-olds, updated sectoral actions. Alongside the plan is a template for feedback which you can complete and return should you so wish.

The deadline for feedback is Wednesday 6 January 2021. The feedback will then be discussed at the next ESB meeting on the 20th January 2021.

In order to obtain a clear sector-wide view on the plan as it stands, GMLPF will hold a consultation session next week. I propose to hold that on Wednesday 17th December at 11.30 for an hour. I will give a quick overview of the plan but will be focusing on getting feedback from members on the strengths, weaknesses and gaps within the plan and looking at the consultation questions. Please feel free to join us and apologies for the short notice but this is being driven by external factors.

I would urge you to book onto this consultation as this plan will shape and inform investment in skills over the coming year. We must ensure that it is fit for purpose.

Book now


The Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices

We know that the Covid-19 outbreak has had a seismic effect on the economy. Some apprentices have been made redundant without completing their apprenticeships, while others are at risk of redundancy. To support these apprentices, the Department for Education has recently launched the Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices.

The service provides clear, accessible advice and guidance to individuals on the impact of redundancy, their options and next steps.

The service is made up of three main elements:

  • Providing apprentices with advice and guidance on the impact of redundancy
  • Signposting apprentices to local and national support services
  • An apprenticeship vacancy sharing service to make redundant apprentices aware of new opportunities

Are you aware of an employer who would like to recruit a redundant apprentice or offer new apprenticeship opportunities? If you cannot help them yourselves, please ask them to visit Hiring an apprentice who has been made redundant or call 0800 015 0600 to find out more.

If you are aware of any apprentices who have been made redundant, and you are unable to help them, please encourage them to visit Facing redundancy during your apprenticeship or call 0800 015 0400 to speak to an adviser.

Please also share the YouTube video which provides details on the Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices, explaining what the service is, the benefits and how to access it.

There is also content for websites and social media, prepared for different audiences which providers may want to use themselves.

National Skills Fund: Level 3 Adult Offer & Bootcamps

Over this Parliament and from 2021-2024, the government is planning on investing £2.5 billion in the National Skills Fund. The National Skills Fund will help adults to train and gain the valuable skills they need to improve their job prospects. The NSF aims to support economic recovery and address future skills needs by boosting the supply of skills and addressing employer skills needs.


The Chancellor announced an initial £375 million for the National Skills Fund at the Spending Review in November 2020. This includes £95 million in funding for a new level 3 adult offer and £43 million to expand skills bootcamps.


Level 3 adult offer

From April 2021, any adult aged 24 and over who wants to achieve their first full level 3 qualification, (equivalent to a technical certificate or diploma, or two A levels) will be able to access almost 400 fully funded courses. This is part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee which was announced by the Prime Minister in September 2020.

Courses will be available in a variety of lengths, to support adults to get the skills they need to boost their careers.


Sector subject areas and courses available

A range of funded courses will deliver a wide range of skills in many jobs and sectors.

Download the complete list of qualifications 

All of the qualifications have been carefully chosen to help adults improve their job prospects, meet the needs of the economy, and cover some critical areas where skills needs exist, namely:

Engineering; building and construction; manufacturing technologies; transportation operations and maintenance; business management; public services; accounting and finance; medicine and dentistry; horticulture and forestry; health and social care; ICT practitioners; ICT for users; mathematics and statistics; science; agriculture; nursing and vocations and subjects allied to medicine; child development and wellbeing; environmental conservation; teaching and lecturing;

warehousing and distribution.

More detailed information on how to access the offer will be available in early 2021. We believe the DfE will run this programme nationally.So what does it mean for providers in the Liverpool City Region?


  • Allocations

We would expect to receive about 4% of total funding or £3m plus, and we understand that that the LCR CA may administer this. We will work with the LCR CA  to establish how it might be developed and managed locally, and to ensure that this funding is accessible to all providers.


  • Awarding organisations, Mayoral Combined Authorities and the Greater London Authority will be able to suggest additions to the list through the qualifications funding approval This can be done on an ongoing basis.

Looking at the list of qualifications, there is a possible risk that this funding may not increase the number of adults starting a Level 3 qualification locally. In fact, this new programme may simply displace Adult Learning Loans, which is a real concern. We will explore this further and work with the LCR CA to ensure that the new programme does not displace and also undermine local provider stability. GMLPF will seek to ensure that this funding sits outside the current AEB procurement model, i.e. funding is not channelled exclusively through the existing grant-funded and procured provider base as that would be too limiting and restrict choice and opportunity.


Skills bootcamps

As part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, the Prime Minister also announced the expansion of the skills bootcamp programme, i.e. running local digital skills bootcamp. Skills bootcamps will complement the level 3 adult offer, providing free, flexible courses of just 12 to 16 weeks. They give the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills, and fast-track to an interview with a local employer.


Subject areas

A range of bootcamp models will be established: Digital; Welding; Engineering; Construction


The Liverpool City Region will be a pilot area for the new bootcamps. Again, we are awaiting more information and will liaise with the LCR CA to discuss the local rollout. If anybody is interested in knowing more about the welding, engineering and construction bootcamps, please contact [email protected] to discuss further

A Message for GMLPF members from CEO Ian Lomas

Earlier this month I came across the New Year’s Day  cover of the Times from this year which stated that “Britain was entering 2020 with a newfound sense of optimism.” How wrong that headline would ultimately prove to be, as, in a matter of weeks, a pandemic was to spread across the globe bringing 2 national lockdowns with it in the UK,  severe restrictions on business and civil liberties and huge operational challenges for learning providers. I know from talking to many of you over the last 9 months that you have very much been in the front line and a number of you also contracted, and thankfully, recovered from Covid.


Challenges and change

What has impressed me, when speaking to you over the last nine months, is how learning providers have responded to the constant challenges brought about by Covid. In many respects, the pandemic has shown the strengths of the sector and individual learning providers. You have played a critical role in protecting the welfare of many of our learners by providing wrap around and pastoral care during the lockdowns and then by providing a Covid secure environment for learning when providers re-opened learning centres. Feedback from Public Health colleagues and yourselves suggests that the sector has been hugely successful in reducing the transmission of Covid and keeping learners healthy. Equally, the pandemic has shown has committed providers are to providing a quality learning experience and just how agile, dynamic and responsive the sector can be, embracing and implementing change quickly in order to continue delivering learning.


Well, what does the New Year hold for us? I am not going to make any grand predictions despite having read “Super Forecasting” during lockdown. However, I am sure that it will continue to throw up challenges but equally opportunities including consultations on ineligible costs and re-rating of Standards, the new National Skills Fund and tendering of 16-18 Traineeships and national AEB programmes.

It’s good to talk

GMLPF will work with you to navigate those and will remain accessible to you all. One of the positives I will take from this year is just how much more personal contact I have had with most of you and how I have been able to help you. It is good to talk and I think that I have spoken to most of you more than I would have done in any given “normal” year although I hope phone calls will soon translate to more visits and face to face meetings. I have also been touched by the positive feedback I  have received from you suggesting that GMLPF got the balance of support and contact that we offer members right throughout the pandemic.



At this point, as we approach Christmas  I’d like to thank you for your continued membership and support and would like to wish you, your families and colleagues a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and, critically, a safe holiday period. I would also like to thank the Board members of the Federation who have continued to support me throughout this year and Pavlina Kiakides and Jan Agger who have helped keep GMLPF and myself going throughout the pandemic.

Once again Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Ofsted annual report

Last week, Ofsted published its annual report for the year 2019/20.

It should be noted that this report covers the year when the new EIF was introduced and when inspection activity has been affected by the pandemic.

Some key messages that may be of interest to members are:

Learning Loss
Disruption to learners’ education as a result of the pandemic has been significant, especially in schools. In the pre-16 education sector, time spent in lockdown accounted for some 3% of an individual’s education. The disruption to education during that, and subsequent lockdown, period meant that learners made little progress.

In relation to the FES / Post 16 sector:

  • The proportion of ILPs judged good or outstanding declined for the fourth consecutive year. Whereas, the proportion of Adult and Community Learning providers judged good or outstanding continued to increase and FE remained broadly stable.
  • The proportion of new providers, receiving new provider visits, receiving an Insufficient Progress award increased. Primary reasons for this included: poor use of assessments to support planning of learning, lack of logical curriculum sequencing, insufficient OTJ learning and apprentices not assisted to develop enough new knowledge, skills and behaviours as part of their apprenticeship, instead merely accrediting existing skills that they already have.
  • Governance remains a key issue and concern for Ofsted – “governance was not in place or was not sufficiently challenging in holding senior leaders to account to identify the aspects of the provision that needed to be improved. We also saw leaders, managers and the governance function not moving swiftly enough to implement the recommendations made at a new provider monitoring visit.”
  • Apprenticeship provision is considered to be the weakest, where one in 10 providers are judged inadequate. Almost a quarter (24%) of providers that received new provider monitoring visits in 2019/20 had at least one insufficient progress judgement. Key factors in this were weak leadership and a lack of co-development of the curriculum with employers.

Comprehensive Spending Review

Rishi Sunak made a statement today, announcing the outcomes of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review. As well as ensuring a strong focus on public health and Covid the Government’s focus is upon protecting livelihoods (creating jobs), supporting business and protecting public services.

The OBR forecast for this year shows a predicted 11% decrease in the size of the economy this year before returning to growth in subsequent years. It is unlikely that we will return to pre-Covid economy levels before Qtr 4 in 2022. Against this backdrop, Government is borrowing significant levels of funding running a significant current deficit.

Against that backdrop, the Chancellor made a series of announcements. These include:

  • A freeze on public sector pay increases for a number of public sector employees – focusing any increases on NHS workers and those in low paid positions
  • 8% increase in day to day Government Department spending in 2021/22
  • Ongoing investment in NHS fabric; estate and capital items
  • Additional £1bn of funding for Health and Social Care
  • A UK Shared Prosperity Funding with pilot programmes in 2021/22 rising to £1.8 bn a year as EU funding tapers off – this will focus on regional development (including skills)
  • £24bn increase in defence spending over four years
  • £100bn capital investment planned in 2021/22
  • £7.1bn new homebuilding programme and increased investment in digital infrastructure alongside a 10 point plan for a low carbon / green economy
  • A new levelling up fund of £4bn to support the levelling up agenda adopting a place-based model for use over the next four years

With specific reference to employment, education and skills the Chancellor announced:

  • School budget increased by £2.2bn and expansion of new school building programme
  • £3bn Restart programme for over 1m people (unemployed for 12m +) to get back into work to be managed by DWP to counter increases in unemployment
  • £1.5 bn to improve College / FE facilities
  • £0.5bn to boost Traineeships, Apprenticeships and Sector Work Based Academy initiatives
  • An extension of Apprenticeship employer financial incentives to end of March 21.

To help fund these changes, the Government is clearly borrowing more and making cuts in some areas such as Overseas Aid (DFID budget to fall from 0.7% to 0.5% of total Government budget)

It would appear that the Government is planning significant investment in employment, education and skills but, at this point, the investment seems to be more focused on unemployment and pre-16 programmes. Whilst there are some welcome announcements it is disappointing that programmes such as Apprenticeships have not been prioritised more as they are a great vehicle for both creating jobs and improving skills

As more detail emerges, we shall, of course, circulate it.

LCA funding for digital skills programmes

Liverpool Combined Authority recently launched the Digital Skills for the Workplace project, funded by DfE until 31st March 2021 as part of the Digital Bootcamps initiative.

As part of this project, they can provide full funding for digital skills training which is at least Level 3 standard (or equivalent) and up to 12 weeks in duration. They can support employers in the Liverpool City Region who are experiencing digital skills gaps (to upskill, repurpose or recruiting), and individuals in the Liverpool City Region aged 19+ who are looking to upskill/reskill. Additionally, they are working with interested Training Providers to develop suitable digital skills programmes.

Below are links to three PDFs which contain an overview for each audience – Employer, Individuals and Training Providers.

Each PDF has an online link which takes the reader to the relevant registration of interest link. Submissions will be received at a shared mailbox [email protected] which will be picked up by a member of the project team.


Employer overview 

Individuals overview 

Training Providers overview 

NW Further Education and Skills Group

GMLPF represents local providers on this group, which met for the first time w/c 16th November since December 2019.

Members will be interested to learn that Paul Cocker, now a Senior HMI, has joined the NW Ofsted team. The meeting gave Ofsted an opportunity to update FES providers on their work programme currently. During the period September to December 2020, Ofsted plan to

  • Undertake 38 interim visits to providers across the NW – to date some 20 or so visits have taken place. Approximately 5 of these have taken place locally involving visits to FE Colleges and Independent Training Providers
  • Visit all grade 3 and 4 providers and undertaking a sample of visits to Grade 1 and 2 providers who will be selected randomly
  • Roll out interim visits virtually until the 2nd December (unless the Government extend lockdown) when they will resume on a face-to-face basis. Currently, interim visits are undertaken by two HMIs and run between 10 am and 3 pm.
  • Drawing together all the findings from the interim visits into a national research paper to highlight how the sector has adapted and managed Covid

Download slides

Digital training and funding

The Combined Authority has secured some funding from DfE to provide intensive training in digital skills for recently unemployed people or people at risk. GMLPF is looking to hold a members’ webinar on this programme in early September as part of a calendar of events to promote local opportunities for providers.

The LCR CA have a proposal under development to provide both digital skills and general employability skills, written and spoken communication, and general employability competencies.

To help focus the programme, the LCR CA has pulled together a survey, the purpose of which is to gauge interest in the testing of employer-led digital bootcamps and other technical skills training, get a clearer picture of the job vacancy market requiring digital and technical skills in the City Region (from September 2020), and gauge whether employers would be interested in participating in the project.

Please take the time to share or complete the survey

If members would like to know more about this programme then please contact Ian at [email protected] or on the phone at 07840 378218

Download slides

JCP-DWP Webinar 5th August

GMLPF were joined by colleagues from DWP last week who spoke about the need for providers to engage with and get involved in the local (Virtual) Youth Hub initiative, which is being established to provide local unemployed young people with access to a range of work, skills and benefits advice and to get more involved in tendering for and delivering local DWP programmes through their Dynamic Purchasing Systems.

A virtual Youth Hub, underpinned by a number of physical and accessible hubs, is being established across the LCR to support young people who have been made unemployed recently and who are looking to return to work. A calendar of advice sessions and drop-in times for benefits and work advice, skills and learning opportunities as well as business start-up support has been pulled together and will be continually updated. GMLPF members are encouraged, where they are offering support that may be relevant, to get involved, complete the attached template and highlight the support and sessions they can provide.

Currently, very few members have submitted information and I would encourage you, especially AEB providers, to get involved as this is a useful local asset for promoting your services.

Following that, we had a presentation on the JCP-DWP Dynamic Purchasing System. DWP is keen to work with local providers to deliver training support such as Sector Work-Based Schemes and other initiatives that are funded by DWP. It was highlighted that local providers have not historically got involved in and tendered for these opportunities, a situation DWP wishes to address.

One action from the session was for GMLPF and DWP to convene a webinar that took members through the process of registering and applying for tenders using a practical step by step guide. We will look to do this in early September.

The final part of the session touched upon the need, especially with the advent of the Kickstart programme, to encourage closer working and improved referral arrangements.

Download template for Youth Hub

Download JCP presentation slides

Download Youth Hub presentation slides