Metro Mayor and Sefton Council leader with GMLPF Board

Skills providers are key drivers of economic success in Liverpool City Region says Metro Mayor and Council Leader

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Cllr Ian Maher Leader of Sefton Council and LCR Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills both highlighted how the combined authority and regional skills providers can work together to tackle skills gaps in the city region, at an event last week.

The Metro Mayor and the Sefton Council Leader specifically recognised and gave due credence to the critical role of skills providers in the future prosperity of Liverpool City Region. They were both speaking at a special briefing event organised by Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation (GMLPF) for its members last week.

Andy Fawcett, executive director of Greater Manchester Provider Network was also a key speaker at the event at the Royal Liver Building held to focus attention on the role of the skills provider in delivering devolution.

Committed to working with skills providers

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Ensuring that our residents have the right skills to prosper in the 21st century economy is a key priority for the Combined Authority, and we are committed to working closely with skills providers to ensure that happens.”

Councillor Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said: “Devolution has given us greater powers around skills, not least through responsibility for the Adult Education Budget.  Whilst we are working within a local, regional and national market, it is really important that we have a strong and vibrant local provider base that is meeting local needs.”

Important step

Almost 100 skills provider representatives attended the event on Friday. The session was welcomed by all as an important step to ensuring employers and learners are supported in ways that help the local economy flourish.

GMLPF is a membership organization representing over 70 Apprenticeship and skills providers in Liverpool city region. Their mission is to drive the prosperity of Liverpool City Region by building a foundation of skills for economic success. They do this by supporting the evolution of education and skills providers to meet local and national priorities, for the benefit of individuals, communities and businesses in the region.

Partnership approach

Ian Lomas, chief executive of GMLPF said

“Friday’s event has further strengthened dialogue between decision makers within Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and skills providers, enabling a partnership approach to mapping priorities and opportunities for the delivery of skills following devolution.

“We are very grateful to the Metro Mayor and Cllr Maher for sharing their vision and committing to ongoing dialogue with our members, who are at the coal face of skills delivery in Liverpool City Region. We are also grateful to Andy Fawcett who shared the experience and perspective of providers in the Greater Manchester area.” 

Apprenticeships – Review of Q2 2017/8 data

A review of the Q3 2017/18 Apprenticeship data, both nationally and locally, reveals some interesting data and trends.

Nationally, the Level 2 Hair Professional Apprenticeship Standard is the most popular standard in the country, followed by Installation Electrician Level 3, Customer Service Level 2, Level 3 Engineering Technician and Level 3 Assistant Accountant. This highlights the increasing amount of provision and starts at Level 3 and the decreasing numbers of starts at Level 2. The screenshot below highlights the profile of starts by Standards over the period February – April 2018.

More locally, in the Liverpool City Region, there were some 8,960 individuals resident locally starting an Apprenticeship over the first 3 quarters of 2017-18. At the end of Qtr 3 the number of starts was less than 50% of the total number of starts in 2016/17. On current trends it is possible that there may be some 12,000 starts in the LCR in the 2017/18 year. The attached data gives you a flavour of starts by SSA Tier 1, by level and by geographical area. GMLPF will be shortly undertaking a survey of members to understand the number of starts members supported in 2017/18 to understand the vital contribution our members make locally.

Download data


Back To School: GMLPF announces more free Apprenticeship school information sessions from September

GMLPF is pleased to announce that it has secured funding for additional free Apprenticeships information sessions for schools in Halton, Liverpool, St Helens and Sefton.

Through the government’s Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge for Schools (ASK) programme, GMLPF offers information sessions to schools, helping them meet statutory duties regarding the provision of impartial IAG, specifically in relation to Apprenticeships and Traineeships.

GMLPF’s Apprenticeship experts will come to your school to deliver your choice from our portfolio of school support services. Pick from group assemblies; practical hands-on sessions to help pupils sign up to the national Find An Apprenticeship service; providing information at schools careers events, and parent information sessions.

Apprenticeship experts

Because it’s a Government programme, the information provided through GMLPF’s ASK sessions is always correct and up-to-date. The individuals who deliver the sessions in schools are fully trained Apprenticeships experts who attend regular updates to keep up with changing information. They are subject to external quality inspections, ensuring top quality advice is provided to pupils, parents and teachers.

The ASK team also have in-depth knowledge of the local Apprenticeships landscape – what the growth industries are in Liverpool City Region, and which sectors are likely to see an increase in availability of Apprenticeships and long term careers for school leavers. They are also able to advise on Higher Apprenticeships for university level study, how Apprenticeships are funded, and any impact signing up to an Apprenticeship can have on family benefits.

It’s free!

Yes, the service is absolutely free to schools in Halton, Liverpool, Sefton and St Helens. We’ll come along and speak to pupils, show them how to search for and get notified of Apprenticeships vacancies in their industries of interest. We’ll speak to parents, set up shop at careers evenings, and dispense official information booklets and leaflets – all free of charge.

Schools find sessions invaluable

 GMLPF has already delivered its ASK services to many schools across Liverpool City Region. Feedback from schools has been extremely positive. It shows they have found the information sessions and our other Apprenticeships support services an ideal way to provide pupils with the latest information about Apprenticeships and Traineeships.

Schools have also told us that booking an ASK sessions is a good way of demonstrating to Ofsted inspectors that they are properly addressing their statutory obligations, accessing good quality Apprenticeships information, advice and guidance for their pupils, enabling them to make informed decisions about their future.

Easy to book

Booking one of our ASK services couldn’t be easier – just email or call 0151 707 8775 and ask for Jan Agger.

Devolution of AEB

Many members attended the Devolution of AEB Workshop held at the Hilton Hotel on Monday 20th August. The event was an opportunity to find out more about the plans for the devolution of AEB and for the Combined Authority to gauge the level of interest, amongst the provider base, to become involved in bidding for AEB resources and to get feedback from providers on how the devolved budget might best be rolled out and implemented.

Key messages that emerged included:

  • The overall AEB budget for the Liverpool City Region is likely to be in the region of £50-52m for 2019/20 but will depend on spend in the  2018/19 year
  • Devolution will involve a mix of grant funding and procured activity
  • Of this budget some £10-15m will be procured by the Combined Authority – the balance of the budget will be grant funded to Colleges and Local Authorities
  • The commissioning – procurement process will commence in October 2018 with:
    • A Standard Selection Questionnaire (SQ) for providers interested in tendering being issued in October
    • Deadline for SQs to be submitted in November
    • Invitations to Tender being issued in December 2018
    • Deadline for submitted tenders in February 2019
    • Contract awards – April 2019
    • Delivery commencing – August 2019
  • Details about what the LCR CA wishes to procure can be found in the above links but they will continue to fund local statutory entitlement provision which is likely to account for 25% of funding and 31% of learners respectively. Outside of this they are keen to ensure that provision addresses key local, social (inclusive growth) and economic priorities which relate back to the LCR Skills Strategy

GMLPF will continue to ensure that members receive updates on the devolution of AEB and the proposed procurement round. If members have any questions then feel free to contact Ian at GMLPF for more information.

You can access the presentation from the event via the links below or at

Presentation Slides

Soft Market Testing Questionnaire


ESF Update

Members might be aware that the ESFA launched two ESF co-financed tenders via their e-tending portal earlier this week; one for ESF Community Grants and one for Supply of Support to Individuals Who are NEET. The deadline for these is tight – mid September 2018.

GMLPF is consulting with local stakeholders and partners to discuss a potential consortium proposal that would clearly align ESF resources with mainstream provision to help address the issue of increasing NEET locally.

Members will also note that Skills Support for the Unemployed (SSU) and Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) tenders have also been launched by the ESFA for neighbouring areas and other parts of England but not for the Liverpool City Region.

The LCR Combined Authority is considering how best to take these two programmes forward in light of the evolving devolution agenda, including the devolution of the AEB budget next year. GMLPF will continue to update members as and when details emerge

ESF Co-Financed NEET Project

Members can find out more information about this tender by downloading the files below:

Specification Invitation to Tender NEET

Response Questionnaire IP 1.1 1.2 2.1 v0.3

SSQ 6.3 Track record Response Questionnaire FOR IP.1.1 1.2 2.1

Volumes and Values Workbook IP 1.2 NEET

GMLPF is currently talking to stakeholders and the MCA to understand if there is value in forming a delivery consortium. Initial suggestions are that this may be the case. Any organisations wishing to know more can e-mail or phone on 0151 707 8775 or 07840 378218

LCR providers say student mental health is impacting on Apprenticeship delivery

A multitude of causes ranging from homelessness to the Apprenticeship Levy are fuelling the rise in mental health issues among apprentices and other students in Liverpool City Region, according to findings of research conducted by Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation (GMLPF). And providers say the rise is impacting on delivery of Apprenticeships in the region.

30% of students experiencing poor mental health

GMLPF conducted a snapshot survey among its members in the Liverpool City Region asking them to share their experiences of student mental health. The results indicate that on average 30% of a provider’s learners are experiencing mental health problems at any point in time. Approximately 40 staff hours a month per provider are taken up dealing with learner mental health. And arguably most signficantly, no single learning provider feels completely equipped to support the rising number of students presenting with mental health issues. 

10 causes

The findings revealed ten principal causes of poor mental health in students, ranging from lack of self-belief to eating disorders and addiction. And because employers have started to take a more hands-on role in Apprenticeships performance due to the introduction of the Levy, their expectations add to students’ pressure.

Ian Lomas, CEO of GMLPF, says:

“Eighty percent of the respondents believe the number of students with mental health issues is on the rise.  A big driver could be that the increase in awareness has led to more cases being reported.  We see this as the one positive, because if we don’t know about a problem we can’t deal with it. Unfortunately this is offset against the increasingly complex nature of the challenges students are facing, and the fact that providers lack the confidence, skills and access to support to effectively manage the problem.”

All levels

The results clearly indicate the need to equip learning providers with the skills they need to help students suffering with mental health.  As pressure increases on learners to achieve more, the stresses are felt at all levels including apprenticeships, traineeships and study programmes.

Providers are clearly struggling to access the services of external specialist agencies. One provider reported the following worry:

“We have tried to refer students to external counselling but appointment waiting times are so long the course is finished by the time appointments are made.” 

Dealing with the effects of cannabis addition on students’ mental health has become routine for some providers, as one told us:

“We work closely with CAMHS and Addaction, for learners where cannabis addiction has affected their mental health.”

Support for providers

The learning providers involved in the study had a range of views on the support they’d like to see.  The most popular suggestion is for short courses and awareness sessions for provider staff.  Respondents also outlined how they would like to see more advice on referral agencies and some supported the idea of more structured training programmes for their staff. We will report back soon on our plans to help boost learning providers’ confidence in dealing positively with students’ mental health.

View full findings on infographic


GMLPF Health and Social Care Forum update

The GMLPF Health and Social Care Forum met last week where Ian Lomas, GMLPF CEO, gave an update on:

  • apprenticeship starts in the sector
  • plans by the LCR local authorities to boost apprenticeship starts in the sector through the use of their Levy
  • the potential impact of new flexibilities for funding of learning within the AEB programme upon apprenticeships.
Apprenticeship starts

Overall, there were some 6,040 apprenticeship starts in the first two quarters of 2017/18. If replicated over the remaining two quarters, total apprenticeship starts in the LCR during 2017/18 will be approximately a 1/3 less than in the preceding year.

Looking at Tier 1 SSA data there were some 5,280 starts in the health, public service and care sector in 2016/17, whereas in the first two quarters of this current 2017/18 year there were only 1,580. If this figure is replicated in the remaining two quarters it is possible that the total number of starts in this area would be some 40% down on last year. This confirms intelligence from providers in the sector.

LCR Local Authority Plans for Growing Apprenticeship Starts in the Sector

The LCR Combined Authority and 6 local authorities held an initial workshop in early July to explore the skills needs of the social care sector, to discuss falling apprenticeship starts in the area and how they might promote apprenticeships more, and boost draw down of the Levy to boost the number of Starts. The workshop included a presentation from Skills for Care. Ian Lomas. GMLPF CEO attended the workshop. A key action is to broker input by the LCR CA and Skills for Care into the next meeting of the Health and Social Care Forum.


There are new freedoms and flexibilities within the AEB programme for 2018/19 including the provision of fully funded learning for employees who earn less than £15,736.50 per annum. This pilot funding has the potential to displace other forms of work based learning that require a degree of co-investment from employers, including apprenticeships, in sectors where wages are below the local average salary. We discussed the potential impact of AEB fully funding learning for those in employment in the Social Care and Early Years sectors and how it might impact upon apprenticeship starts. 

Future meetings of GMLPF Health & Social Care Forum

Thursday 25.10.18 – 2-4pm

Thursday 31.01.19 – 2-4pm

Thursday 25.04.19 – 2-4pm

Thursday 27.07.19 – 2-4pm

Thursday 31.10.19 – 2-4pm

All meetings will be held at NWCS

LCR Learn

Following the Liverpool City Region Area Based Review and the recommendation that a prospectus of advanced and higher level technical skills be developed, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority have worked with national and local stakeholders to produce LCR Learn.

This dynamic prospectus is the first of its type. The prospectus allows the learner to choose and select and save their own individualised prospectus across multiple institutions.

It expands on the initial Area Based Review recommendation to detail locally available advanced and higher level technical skills to support employer and learner choice and now incorporates learning from all levels and ages available in the City Region.

The site has been informed by College and ILP provider submissions detailed on the National Careers Service (NCS) Course Directory. The NCS have kindly made changes to the way in which they structure their developer tools to facilitate links to LCR Learn .

LCR Learn is still in development but GMLPF is keen to ensure that it works effectively, provides an opportunity for members to highlight the range of provision they offer locally and to give learners up to date information on what learning programmes are available locally. LCR Learn should pick and grab information off the NCS Course Directory and automatically highlight it in a search.

Can I ask members to ensure their submissions the National Careers Service Course Directory are accurate, timely and up to date and are as detailed as possible?  Can I also ask you to test the link and see if it captures and presents the full extent your current offer as this will become a valuable means of promoting your organisation and learning offer to learners, employers and stakeholders alike. If you have any issues that you would wish to highlight please let me know (e-mail and I will liaise with the Combined Authority.

Members identify GMLPF priorities for coming 12 months

As part of its programme of member engagement, GMLPF took the opportunity to speak to members at the AGM about what we do well, what we could do better and what our priorities should be over the coming 12 months. 

What we do well

Members recognise the value of GMLPF in raising the profile of learning providers, flagging up concerns and representing them. GMLPF has made advances in last few months in supporting a greater flow of relevant information and engaging members into a wider policy debate.

What we could do better

Members were clear about the challenges facing them and felt that GMLPF could facilitate more networking between members, including a buddying system that provides peer review and support, more networking activity and more CPD activity to ensure that members remain “one step ahead of the game.”

Members saw value in there being more frequent networking opportunities and the development of a number of forums including a DARA forum.

Priorities over next 12 months

A clear priority for members is better understanding and shaping the devolution agenda in particular the AEB programme and preparing for the introduction of T-Levels. Taking forward activities that support the development and delivery of Study Programme and Apprenticeships  Linked to the need for more CPD members indicated that a key priority for the coming year must be developing the capacity and capability of members to respond to mental health issues.