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.” 

ian lomas speaks to members at agm


GMLPF held its 14th Annual General Meeting last week at The Hallmark Hotel on Sefton Park, attended by 60 guests from regional learning providers, and featured three key speakers: Mike Firth (ESFA), Bev Barlow (Ofsted) and Julie Byrne (LCR Combined Authority)

Mike Firth ESFA

After a brief overview of the annual report for 2016/17 by CEO Ian Lomas and chair Debbie Tagoe, the morning’s programme commenced with an update from Mike Firth, Head of Intervention, ESFA. His presentation focussed on several key areas including an outline of changes within the ESFA, namely the new territorial teams who are responsible for overseeing the FE provider base from October 2018. They will be responsible for assessing risk, managing key budget performance and supporting vulnerable providers. Mike spoke about the internal and external factors that can impact on providers’ financial success or failure.

Mike’s presentation also featured an overview of T-levels and its positioning in relation to Apprenticeships and other post 16 choices, which produced lively discussions amongst members. In response to a request by Ian Lomas prior to the event, Mike dedicated the final part of his session to gaps in provision and market entry.

Download Mike’s slides

Bev Barlow Ofsted

Bev Barlow, Senior HMI, Ofsted, provided an update for members featuring a review of inspection outcomes for Liverpool City Region FE providers. Key issues identified through inspection for LCR providers include off the job training (Apprenticeships), development of new skills and knowledge (Apprenticeships), English and Maths (Study Programmes), levels of challenge (Study Programmes), work experience (Study Programmes) and progression and destinations (Study Programmes). Other issues are listed on Bev’s slides.

Bev also gave an update on the process for inspecting Apprenticeships and new providers, and overviews on future policy and the Education Inspection Framework 2019.

Download Bev’s slides

Julie Byrne LCR Combined Authority

Julie Byrne, the final speaker at the GMLPF AGM, gave guests a useful breakdown of the priorities laid out in the LCR Apprenticeship Growth Plan. Her presentation also provided Apprenticeship start statistics for the region, and considered the challenges facing employers and how the LCR Hub/Combined Authority are addressing these.

Download Julie’s slides

Ofsted workshops a great success

In response to demand from members, GMLPF recently held two Ofsted workshops. The first, Ofsted for Beginners was designed for learning providers who are Ofsted novices including:

  • those who are new on register of training providers, either new to the industry or former sub-contractors
  • subcontractors subject to inspection due to relationship with prime
  • staff in providers who are new or know little about Ofsted even though the provider has experience

The workshop was delivered by Jackie Shopland-Reed, Ofsted inspector and owner/director of Apprenticeship provider Lite Ltd. It focussed on types of inspection, what to expect from each, structure and components, how to prepare and other key areas.

The second workshop, Ofsted for Experienced Providers, was delivered by Ofsted inspector, Kath Townsley,  in association with QLS, and targeted those providers who had knowledge and previous experience of the Ofsted process. The workshop looked at

  • Recent changes to the Further Education & Skills Inspection Handbook
  • Key areas providers are tripping up on in inspection
  • Emerging themes

There was also the opportunity for delegates to get individual feedback on their SARs.

Both workshops were extremely well received with all delegates rating them as very good or excellent. The knowledge and training ability of both trainers was rated as excellent.

Offering two workshops for different categories of provider is reflective of GMLPF’s current drive to tailor our member services to meet individual organisations’ needs.

FIT UK help Michael start on ladder to bright future

12 months ago, Michael was unemployed and struggling to find work. He had a keen interest in the fitness industry however he found it difficult to find appropriate opportunities until he was introduced to FIT UK through Volair leisure trust in Knowsley.

FIT UK who work in partnership with Volair, were recruiting enthusiastic and motivated individuals interested in careers in the fitness industry, offering them a course to gain the the Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing, funded through the Adult Education Budget.  

Full time job

Michael did not hesitate to enrol onto the 16-week course. After he  completed the course, Alan Reddin, Business Development Director at FIT UK spoke to Volair about Michael, as he had proved to be an exceptional candidate. As a result, only a few weeks after Michael qualified, he was interviewed by Volair and offered a full time job as a fitness instructor. He is now gaining invaluable industry experience and will be progressing with FIT UK onto the L3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Personal Training.

Alan Reddin FIT UK Director said “Michael was an excellent student who just needed to be given an opportunity in an industry he was so enthusiastic about. Our tutor informed me of Michael’s ability, knowledge and understanding of the fitness instructor role, pointing out he would be an asset to any gym. This is why I approached Volair and asked them if they could offer Michael an interview. We are very pleased Michael has gained employment in an area he enjoys, and we will support him as best we can through this journey”.

Sysco announce Apprenticeship Award winners

GMLPF member, Sysco, recently announced their Apprentice and Employer of the Year awards. Apprentice of the Year is Kaitlyn Brown, a customer service apprentice with Kindfulness Coffee Club in Bootle, whilst Sysco Apprentice Employer of the Year is Adactus Housing Group.

Kindfulness Coffee Club are a small business based in Bootle who offer support to local individuals who are dealing with bereavement, mental health issues or struggling to make ends meet. They run a wide range of groups and services, such as Mindfulness and Walk and Talk, used by all ages that benefit emotional and social wellbeing. The café is quickly becoming a community hub and provides people with a hot drink and a friendly ear for their troubles.


Kaitlyn, pictured above with customers, has had an exceptional impact during the time she has been with the club. Due to her role being so specialist, her training was extended to include Safeguarding and Suicide prevention so that she can provide the right support to individuals who require it. Kaitlyn feels that her Apprenticeship “turned out to be so much more than a Customer Service certificate”.

Career progression

Employer of the Year, Adactus Housing Group, has recently merged with New Charter Housing Group to form a new organisation called Jigsaw. Several of their apprentices nominated them for the way they recognise and meet the needs of their apprentices, and for the career progression support they offer.

Time To Talk Day 2018

Following on from discussions with members who attended our recent forum, we want to underline GMLPF’s commitment to collaborating with providers to address the growing issue of mental health and its impact on employment and skills in Liverpool City Region. As a start, we will be sharing what we feel are useful resources for members to consider using in the support of learners, staff and wider communities.

Tomorrow is Time To Talk Day 2018, established by Time To Change, the growing social movement changing how we all think and act about mental health. The Time To Change website provides a portfolio of downloadable resources and tips designed to end mental health discrimination.

We welcome any examples of mental health resources you use to support students or staff that could be shared with other GMLPF members. Please forward them to

In the near future, we plan to set up a working group focussing on the impact of mental health in the sector and develop an action plan. Any members interested in joining this group, please email

GMLPF member is first provider to complete EPA for Housing Apprenticeships Standards

GMLPF member Sysco, has become the first training provider in the country to complete the End-Point Assessment (EPA) for the new Housing Apprenticeship Standards with learner Hannah Chambers, 24.


Hannah, (pictured left with Jackie Grannell, Sysco Training Advisor), has been working for Stockport Homes Group (SHG) for the last 16 months after being recruited by Sysco as part of the SHG Apprenticeship Scheme and was signed up to Sysco’s Housing / Property Management Assistant Trailblazer Housing Standard in August 2016. As the first End-Point Assessment to take place in England, the process has been a learning experience for both Sysco and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) who acted as both the awarding body and Independent Assessment Organisation. Hannah performed exceptionally well, supported by Sysco’s trainers, earning the highest grading available, distinction.

What employers are looking for

“Sysco worked with us on a pilot basis, helping us to overcome the challenge of setting up processes and procedures that not only reflect the standards but also the roles of employers and training providers in supporting apprentices,” said Dr Veronica Coatham of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH)

“Sysco are the first training provider to submit an apprentice through the gateway for assessment with CIH and we are grateful to Sysco and Stockport Homes for working with us on setting up the first professional conversation – Sysco’s managers have been very helpful in supporting us and prepared the apprentice very well. It is good to see that the new apprenticeships are delivering what employers and the sector are looking for.”

Recent reform

In Britain there are over 5 million homes owned by housing associations and local councils. Affordable housing needs people to manage the services customers need so the Government has recently reformed Housing Apprenticeships to enable housing professionals to provide these services. Issues such as the rise in homelessness and repossessions, Universal Credit, Government reductions in rent and housing shortages are having significant effects on the role of the Housing professional.

As a result, new housing qualifications have been developed to address the need for housing professionals to work with other public services to regenerate the communities in which people live. The new Housing Standards include qualifications and learnt skills, knowledge and experience that focus on these new challenges.

The completion of the first End-Point Assessment and the achievement of the first Housing Apprenticeship Standard marks the point where these new qualifications are being achieved by housing professionals and Housing Associations, addressing the new challenges originally identified by the trailblazer consultations.

New Alder MD brings wealth of expertise in housing and employment

Alder Training has appointed a new managing director.  Louise Harris, who started in post on 4th December, has a wealth of experience in housing and employment & skills.  As a director for the last 6 years, Louise has worked at national and regional levels in executive and non-executive roles.  In her most recent role she worked with local communities delivering regeneration projects specifically around helping people into work.  

Louise has also led regional strategic work as the chair of the National Housing Federation’s Worklessness Group, which involved housing associations across the North West. At a national level, Louise chaired the Professional Development Board for the Chartered Institute of Housing. 

“I’m delighted to be appointed as the new MD of Alder Training.  Making contact with colleagues in the sector is an important part of the role and I’m really looking forward to meeting and working with people and partners through GMLPF.”

Louise can be contacted on 07403087768 or

What Every School Pupil Should Know About Apprenticeships

Here’s a good resource and starting point for pupils exploring their options or careers teachers talking to students about careers choices at 16:  Five things every school pupil should know about Apprenticeships:

1. There are loads of opportunities! – More and more prestigious employers now employ apprentices straight from school

There are many Apprenticeship opportunities available whenever you choose to leave school – after your GCSEs or after your A-levels. This is because more and more employers realise that Apprenticeships are a great way for them to recruit new young talent. And so they create more vacancies for school leavers who are looking for Apprenticeships. The Apprenticeships vacancies they offer are paid positions with a structured programme of training. They’re a fantastic way to start a career in your chosen industry. In Liverpool City Region, there are many prestigious and well-established employers who recruit school leavers through Apprenticeships, for example Jaguar Land Rover, the NHS, Liverpool University, National Grid, Barbara Daley, the Crown Prosecution Service, Liverpool City Council, Dixons and many more.

2. Equal footing! – Apprenticeships are no longer the poor relation of A-levels or university

Once upon a time Apprenticeships were seen as the choice for pupils who weren’t cut out for an academic route. Schools tended to push their less able students towards this option. However, things have changed! Now, as Apprenticeships offer such a promising long term career, and great earning potential with some of the country’s best companies, more and more able students are choosing Apprenticeships over A-levels, and traditional university courses. What some people don’t realise is that Apprenticeships offer very good progression opportunities. Pupils who leave school after GCSEs can start on an Intermediate Apprenticeship, and then progress onto an Advanced Apprenticeship. If they want to continue, they can progress onto a Higher Apprenticeship which is equal to university level qualifications.

3. Earn and Learn! Apprenticeships offer the best of both worlds

Apprenticeships mean you can keep on learning after school but you’ll be earning a wage too! You’ll receive the minimum apprentice wage for your age but many employers pay much more. You’ll receive holiday pay too. It’s the best of both worlds. The qualifications you achieve are official and specific to the industry you have chosen to build a career in. Training is a mix of on-the-job skills practice and classroom learning. You’ll be supported by a training organisation throughout your programme of training, as well as your employer.

4. It’s not a walk in the park! – Apprenticeships aren’t necessarily the easy option

Some people wrongly think that Apprenticeships are an easy option. Not true! To achieve an Apprenticeship takes hard work. Not only that, because you are employed by a company, you are expected to turn up to work and training sessions on time, behave responsibly, and demonstrate that you are committed to achieving your qualifications. In return, you’ll be benefitting in many ways – earning a wage, getting qualified, picking up the skills required for work, and building your career.

5. Unbelievable choice! You can do an Apprenticeship in almost every industry

There are a wide range of Apprenticeships available, in pretty much every sector of employment. Here are some examples of Apprenticeships available in different industries:

Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Care: Equine; Forestry; Veterinary Nursing; and many more

Arts, Media, Publishing: Creative & Digital Media; Live Events & Promotion; Music Business; and many more

Business, Administration & Law: Accounting, Banking, Customer Service, Marketing, Sales; and many more

Construction: Electro-technical; Plumbing & Heating; Surveying; and many more

Engineering & Manufacturing: Engineering Construction; Domestic Heating; Driving Goods Vehicles; Gas Industry; Glass Industry; Marine Industry; Rail Industry; and many more

Health, Public Services & Care: Children & Young People’s Workforce; Emergency Fire Service Operations; Health & Social Care; Housing; Security Services; and many more

Information & Communication Technology; IT Application Specialist; IT, Software, Telecoms Specialists; and more

Leisure, Travel & Tourism: Instructing Exercise & Fitness; Leisure Operations; Playwork; Travel Services; and many more

Retail & Commercial Enterprise: Barbering; Beauty Therapy; Fashion & Textiles; Hairdressing; Property Services; Warehousing; and many more


We can come and do free presentations and workshops about Apprenticeships in your school. Careers teachers or pupils can find out more by emailing or calling the Schools Support Team on 0151 707 8775.