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Kirklees Council Adult and Community Learning

Kirklees Council have re-organised their services to have greater capacity and a clearer focus on adult skills and local growth.

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Kirklees Council have re-organised their services to have greater capacity and a clearer focus on adult skills and local growth. The Council aims to equip people with the skills to contribute to and benefit from a growing and higher value economy.

Working with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the changes have created space to focus on strategic aspects of skills delivery, in anticipation of continuing devolution of powers and resources from central government. While there is strong higher and further education offer in Kirklees, there is also a significant skills gap, with 13 per cent of residents having no qualifications. Improving pathways to learning and addressing the deficit of higher-level qualifications will aid the growth of SMEs in key engineering sectors and expand the range of well-paid jobs available to local residents.

Re-organising the service has allowed for a review of provision to deliver what residents actually need to access and progress in employment.

The Council is working to reshape provision to strengthen pathways through level 3 to level 4 qualification achievement. Around 40 per cent of Adult and Community Learning (ACL) learners have existing qualifications at level 2 or below, rising to 57 per cent on first step programmes, such as food hygiene. Kirklees aim to work with over 1,200 residents per year, achieving 1,343 enrolments in 2020/21, with a high proportion of learners from ethnic minority and deprived communities. During the year 42.9 per cent of learners were from an ethnic minority, over one quarter (25.5 per cent) had a disability and 54.3 per cent were resident in neighbourhoods that fell with the bottom 30 per cent of the Index of Multiple Deprivation.

Kirklees works with the Combined Authority to direct the use of their devolved AEB. This resource is used through Council operated community learning networks and digital hubs across the borough, plus commissioning of services from voluntary sector providers. ACL is being used flexibly to diversify the access points into learning, blending on-line and in-person training, to provide a strong foundation for progression. Adult information, advice and guidance is used with residents to ensure that people are on the right courses at the right time to maintain their progression. This is primarily delivered through a key worker model by VCS partners, using a mix of council and external funding. Short first-steps provision is deployed experimentally to assess how different forms of delivery work and how they are able to meet the needs of learner groups, allowing for services to be refined and made more impactful.

Flexible delivery of adult and community learning allows residents to define their own ambitions and achieve outcomes in a number of areas of life. 

A key value for Kirklees is to move away from outputs focus on ‘any job’, to support residents to achieve quality outcomes in their working lives, to improve earnings and make the most of employment opportunities locally and in the region. By integrating the employment and skills programming and having a focus on employer demand in key sectors, Kirklees is working to increase social mobility and unlock the ambitions of residents.

A video of Kirklees learners shows the difference that adult learning can make to building confidence.