In this special article for Learning at Work Week, Fiona Aldridge, Head of Insight and Intelligence at West Midlands Combined Authority, explains the importance of funding adult learning and skills and employer support, and the difference it makes to people looking to find work and progress their careers in the West Midlands. 

To coincide with Learning at Work Week, West Midlands Combined Authority are hosting our inaugural Adult Learning Awards, showcasing the impact of WMCA-funded adult learning, skills and training courses, and celebrating the incredible contribution that adult learning makes to the West Midlands.

Developed in partnership with Learning and Work Institute, the 10 winners include stories of adults who have transformed their employment and earnings prospects as well as employers who are supporting them to find work and progress their careers. They truly illustrate how adult learning is helping residents and businesses across the region, to ‘create the future’.

LJM Homecare picked up the SME of the Year award for their commitment to training their staff. LJM strive to offer the very best care in people’s homes and know that staff development is key to achieving this. Their staff have not only gained the qualifications needed to progress in the sector but have also been able to improve the quality of care they offer. LJM have benefited too, improving staff satisfaction and retention – both of which are business critical, given the tight labour market and high levels of vacancies across the sector. 

As care worker, Michelle, reflected, “Although I lacked confidence, the business recognised my desire to succeed and led them to invest time and support in opening up career opportunities… I have been amazed at how much I have developed. I feel that I am learning new skills every day and this is reflected in the quality of care that I provide to our service users.”

Since devolution of the Adult Education Budget in 2019, WMCA has secured more than £0.65bn of public funds for jobs and skills for the region, as well as attracting private sector investment. And we are now using this to help more residents into employment, and to upskill and reskill workers to respond to the current and emerging demands of the regional economy.

To support the growing demand for health and care professionals across the region and help address skills gap in this sector, WMCA have worked in partnership with local employers and training providers to develop a skills and training plan for health and care, setting out the training available across the region, from entry through to degree level and the different routes that can be taken – and offering a blueprint for how we can expand and improve our training offer across the region.

With more than 350 careers in the NHS, nearly 2,000 jobs available in the West Midlands and more than 9,000 job vacancies in adult social care in the region at any one time, the heath and care sector is already a major part of the West Midlands economy – and expected to grow further in coming years. Through out investment in training, WMCA is delighted to be supporting employers, like LJM, to train local residents for rewarding career pathways and to set a great example for other small businesses across the region.

Read all our adult learning award winners’ stories

Published May 2023