North of Tyne poised for a multi-million pound skills boost

The North of Tyne area is set for a multi-million pound skills boost as plans are put in place to devolve adult education funds.

Members of the Combined Authority are preparing to take control of £22m-a-year in skills funding to help workers and young adults shape the future of the North of Tyne economy.

A meeting later this month will outline the devolution steps needed to secure the funding. The move means residents and businesses will, through the Combined Authority, have a much bigger say over how skills funding is used in the region, ensuring training and skills provision responds to local needs.

The devolved Adult Education Budget (AEB) for the North of Tyne aims to provide adults with the skills and learning they need to equip them for work, an apprenticeship or other learning.

As part of the devolution deal, central government will transfer some adult education functions from the Secretary of State for Education to the combined authority.

Through this transfer of functions, the combined authority will take on responsibility for the AEB to make sure learners, aged 19 and over, eligible for funding from that budget, who reside in their areas, have access to the right education and training.

The North of Tyne Combined Authority’s Cabinet is set to agree a timeline which will see it submit its action plan to the Department for Education later this month, with a view to it being approved by Parliament in the autumn.

If all goes according to plan funding will begin to go to providers from August 2020.

Pat Ritchie, Interim Head of Paid Service of the North of Tyne Combined Authority, said: “We have made clear from the start that key to the Combined Authority’s vision is creating the leaders of tomorrow and supporting a hotbed of talent.

“We have ambitious plans to create 10,000 new jobs over the next 30 years and we want people in the North of Tyne to have the right skills and opportunities to fill these roles.

“The devolution of this important budget will allow us to ensure training and skills provision responds to local needs to a much greater extent than is currently the case and will build upon the strong links we already have with local authorities and education providers.”

Andrew Ward