The Tees Valley mayor and Combined Authority have officially taken control of an annual devolved budget of around £29.5m to deliver adult education provision across the region.
To mark the event, the mayor visited Stockton training provider DTN Academy, which provides a comprehensive learning experience for the Telecommunications industry, including local firms such as Map Group, for its adult training open day.
He was joined by Cllr Bob Cook, the Combined Authority’s Cabinet Lead for Education, Employment and Skills, to meet DTN Academy’s Business and Quality director Roy Fraser, Map Group CEO Mike Carlin, and a number of residents who are looking to access adult training.
Last month, the mayor and Combined Authority Cabinet agreed to award the funding to 33 providers, including DTN Academy, who will deliver post-19 education and skills across the region for the 2019/2020 academic year from today.
As part of the Government’s devolution agenda, areas with Metro Mayors have been granted control over the post-19 Adult Education Budgets, alongside powers covering delivery, and performance management.
This is the first time Tees Valley will have control of this budget, and it is one of only seven areas in the country with the powers.
Mayor Houchen said: “Thanks to devolution, we are only taking control of this fund from London because our region agreed to a directly-elected Mayor. With this investment, we will ensure learners can gain the skills that local businesses desperately need.
“For decades, some companies took the easy way out and brought in cheap labour to fill demand. Now we have control over post-19 education, we will start investing in home-grown talent by re-training local people to fill our skills gap.
“For the first time ever, we will absolutely make sure that local people are properly trained to fill the jobs being created today and into the future.
“It was great to head to DTN and meet the staff and trainees who this will directly benefit. When we have proved this new model delivers for businesses and residents, I’ll be pushing for more education powers so we can go even further to make our system the best it can be.”
Cllr Cook said: “Today marks a milestone in our adult education offer in Tees Valley. It’s the end of years of discussions with Government and the beginning of being able to actively make a change for the better in the lives of our residents.
“By providing the correct, relevant training linked to the opportunities and sectors across our region, our residents can get the skills to access top-quality careers and realise their potential.”
Mr Fraser said: “We’re making sure the training that we offer to local people can be as relevant and highest quality it can be by working closely with our telecoms partners.
“We’re committed to Tees Valley and its residents and, this year, we’re aiming to train more than 100 people into employment, the first of who are here at today’s awareness event.
“We’re proud to be part of this new way of doing things, which will improve adult education and training for everyone.”
Adult education is a major strand of the ten-year Tees Valley Investment Plan agreed in January.
This has seen an additional £55m committed for wider education, employment and skills initiatives, including projects and schemes to tackle unemployment, support apprenticeships, and engage our young people with employers across the region.
• Picture above (from front left): Mayor Houchen, Mike Carlin, Cllr Cook and Roy Fraser with trainees.