£500,000 boost for college partnership

A partnership of colleges in the West Midlands, supported by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), has been boosted by a Government fund aimed at keeping more young people in further education and training.

The partners have won £500,000 from the Department for Education’s College Collaboration Fund, which is designed to develop greater collaboration across the sector.

Led by Dudley College of Technology and supported by the WMCA, the bid also included Birmingham Metropolitan, City of Wolverhampton, Halesowen, South Staffordshire, Walsall, Solihull, South and City, and North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire colleges.

The participating colleges will use the fund to develop a variety of initiatives to reduce the number of young people who drop out of education or training.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Our young people are our future and we need their contribution to help rebuild our region’s economy in the longer term after the Covid-19 crisis.

“It’s critical that we engage with those young people most at risk of not being in employment, education or training, and equip them with the skills they need to gain jobs.

“I’m pleased that we’ve been able to help our local colleges gain extra funding from the Government, and we will continue to work closely with them to support our young people at this difficult time.”

Cllr George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills, added: “In our recovery from the pandemic, we must do everything we can to support our young people into work.

“It’s good news that the region is getting additional support to enable more young people to gain the skills needed by local employers.”

The colleges will use the fund for a number of initiatives, including working together with the WMCA and local authorities to track young people’s progress, particularly between the ages of 16 and 18.

This will involve developing a single data-sharing agreement, analysing information and accelerating tracking and communication.

The fund will also enable the partners to develop a targeted programme of activities to support those most at risk of being not in employment, education or training.

Neil Thomas, chief executive and principal at Dudley College of Technology, said: “Now more than ever, it is incredibly important that we support all young people to successfully transition through education and ultimately into employment.

“With this funding we will work collaboratively across the region to ensure that fewer young people drop out of education and instead inspire them to pursue training and a career linked to local industries. This is great news for the region and the young people we serve.”