New system for technical education to launch this year
Reporter: Jess Reeves
Date published: 10 April 2019
Greater Manchester’s ‘first of its kind’ application system to help youngsters find technical courses and apprenticeships will launch later this year.
The UCAS style portal – one of Andy Burnham’s mayoral campaign pledges – is said to level the playing field for those seeking an alternative to higher education.
A tender process is open for an operator to deliver the new system with combined authority bosses saying it will be live in the autumn.
Mr Burnham said: “For too long A-levels as a stepping stone to a degree have been perceived as the be-all and end-all once you reach 16 years of age.
“Knowing where to find out about other options and apply for them hasn’t always been easy.
“For too long technical training hasn’t received the recognition it deserves as a valuable route into skilled employment – this will no longer be the case here in GM as we know the fantastic opportunities on offer for young people and employers alike.”
The system will be designed to make it easier for young people to find opportunities such as work-shadowing, mentoring, open days and career talks.
Users will be able to track the progress of their applications and training programmes and create online profiles to showcase their skills.
Mr Burnham added: “I have been clear for a long time that apprenticeships, work shadowing opportunities and other forms of training are just as essential to the world of work as A-levels or a university education – perhaps more so for some careers.”
The mayor has already unveiled plans to offer 16 to 18 year olds ‘opportunity passes’ for free bus travel, funded in part by a rise in the mayoral precept on council tax bills.
It is hoped extra funding will be found from contributions from bus firms and colleges but a recent combined authority report has forecast that further tax bill increases may be a worst-case scenario to plug any shortfalls next year.
The passes and the new application system were major pillars of Mr Burnham’s election campaign in 2017.
Sean Fielding, GMCA lead member for education added: “This UCAS-style system will be one of the first of its kind in the country and will change the way young people enter further education or start work.
“It’s another step on our journey to make GM one of the best places to grow up and get on.
At the same time, the combined authority is preparing to take control of the £92.6m devolved Adult Education Budget this summer, which will help to ensure that all adults are equipped to enter work or to progress to further learning.
“Taken together, these developments show how we will develop the talent and skills of our residents throughout their lives, as the key to unlocking GM’s ambitions for our people and our place.”
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