Theory of devolution

Plans to devolve Skills Funding are now well underway. The government has issued its statutory guidance for combined authorities, admittedly not a riveting read, but it sets out the rules around which devolved adult education functions will be structured. This guidance states that devolved authorities must ‘consult with representative providers on their approaches to funding and performance management rules, funding rates and funding formula’.

So, whilst it looks like we’re going to have a further layer of complexity – localised funding rules for areas with devolved budgets (in addition to national level funding rules), providers are going to get a say in how these rules will be formulated and commissioned. These rules will then be published in advance of the funding year they apply to. If you’re located in one of the areas affected (The Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, West of England Combined, West Midlands Combined Authority, Tees Valley Combined Authority or the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority), there will be engagement activities taking place very soon to commission these rules, and I’d strongly urge you to get involved.

In Greater London, this process has already begun. The Skills for Londoners Strategy Framework Consultation closed this week, and provided real insight into how these devolved authorities will be making decisions and drawing on an evidence base in the future. 

This month, we also saw money from central government flow to the West Midlands Combined Authority to boost digital and technical skills, job opportunities and productivity across the region, with the aim of supporting more young people and adults into work, as well as upskilling and retraining local people of all ages.

This is in addition to the soon to be devolved Adult Education Budget (AEB) budget, and ultimately informs the West Midlands’ Local Industrial Strategy. The intention is that this fund will be used to promote apprenticeship opportunities with employers, and to deliver high quality technical education that meets the skills needs of the region alongside careers advice and guidance.

These developments represent increased opportunities for technical education providers to take control of our destiny, and ensure that we have the resources to support learners in our regions.