03Policy priority 3: Improve young people’s skills across the combined authority
- Address poor school performance in Peterborough. The mayor should use their powers and profile to convene and support local stakeholders to work towards hitting the national average for pupils getting good grades in English and Maths.
- Create a UCAS for Apprenticeships to support those leaving schools find career opportunities. The mayor should make life as easy for employers and young people choosing the apprenticeship path as UCAS makes it to find and apply for university courses.
Labour market outcomes are sadly not equal across the combined authority. The youth claimant count was 10.5 per cent in Peterborough compared to 2.5 per cent in Cambridge in February 2021.14 This is partly due to differences in skills provision, as schools in Peterborough have room for improvement. The city is fourth lowest nationally in the share of pupils getting good grades in English and Maths at GCSE, 10 points below the national average. 15 Cambridge, by contrast, is the second-best city in the country by this measure, nearly 10 points above the national average.
The mayor should use their soft power and position to convene and campaign for schools in Peterborough to reach the national average. Although the mayor does not have formal powers over schools, other mayors have focused on extracurricular activities as they address their education gaps. In Greater Manchester for example, the mayor has stepped beyond formal powers to use convening power to work on improving school readiness in Early Years, and the Our Pass scheme to support extracurricular activities and free and discounted travel for younger people.16 The mayor could work to expand the pilot My Cambridge culture card into a broader offer for young people.
The combined authority should also create a local UCAS-style portal for local apprenticeships. Impressive progress has been made on bringing a university to Peterborough.17 But better skills provision is also needed for young people who do not take the university route. The mayor should introduce a scheme similar to Liverpool City Region’s ‘Be More’ apprenticeship portal, which makes local apprenticeships visible to local applicants and apprentices visible to employers.18 Combining this with an Our Pass-style card would help to push awareness of and access to career ‘tasters’ and open days that demonstrate the opportunities that apprenticeships offer.