The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has pledged to continue to support local colleges and training providers during the coronavirus outbreak.
The WMCA is responsible for the region’s £126m adult education budget (AEB), which was devolved from central Government in autumn 2019 to equip local people with the skills they need to get new and better jobs.
The WMCA has confirmed that it will continue to make scheduled AEB payments to all colleges and local authorities funded under a grant agreement.
Private training providers will be paid for this month, and the WMCA will be working with the providers to develop proposals for funding for the rest of this academic year and into 2020/21.
Cllr George Duggins, WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills and leader of Coventry City Council, said:
“The coronavirus outbreak means we are all facing challenging and unsettling times. The WMCA is working hard to maintain essential services to businesses and residents and to keep our communities safe.
“We know the region’s colleges and adult education providers are following government advice on social distancing, and this will clearly have an impact on our collective ability to deliver training and learning to unemployed and employed people across the West Midlands.
“Many colleges and providers will be continuing to support learners, through online learning, as well as offering support for vulnerable learners.
“We fully appreciate the need for a level of assurance concerning WMCA payments, in particular for the AEB, and will be working with all our providers to develop proposals for how we will treat funding for the 2020/21 academic year. Our aim is to be as flexible and supportive as possible.”
The WMCA will be working closely with the Department for Education, the Education and Skills Funding Agency and other combined authorities to ensure a consistent approach to funding.
In addition, the WMCA is also working with colleges and providers to identify what support the region can offer to support communities and businesses.