03Policy priority 3: Ensure young people have the skills and support to fully benefit from Greater Manchester’s growth

  • Offer pre-apprenticeship training and apprenticeship mentoring. This would build on the progress made from the mayor’s new UCAS-style apprenticeship portal.
  • Undertake an audit of adult education spend in Greater Manchester. Calculating how much is spent on adult education and by which bodies is the crucial first step to identifying how it can be better targeted.
  • Use the convening role of the mayor to tackle the underperformance of Greater Manchester schools. The success of the mayor’s focus on homelessness and early years’ challenges should be applied to the city region’s schools.

For economic growth to be felt by existing residents of Greater Manchester, the mayor will need to build on the city region’s progress made on skills and education for adults, with additional support for young people’s learning. Ensuring that today’s young people are able to benefit from tomorrow’s prosperity is worth continued support and investment, and there are number of things that can be done by the mayor to achieve this.

Greater Manchester’s progress on apprenticeships policy should be matched by improving pre-apprenticeship policy. The Greater Manchester Apprenticeships and Careers System launched at the start of last year offers information and guidance to young people on the options available to them. The mayor should build on this to add mentoring and pre-apprenticeship support for young people as this has been shown to have a positive impact on the completion rates of apprenticeships.9

The mayor should also use their office to do an audit on how much is spent on skills and by which institutions. A great deal of money is spent on skills policy each year, but there is little coordination between the various bodies of how this is spent. While this issue affects all parts of the country, mayors in areas that have them are well placed to tackle this problem. Mapping this spend would be the first step for the mayor to make better use of this significant budget to better tackle the city region’s skills challenges.

Schools should be a new focus of the mayor. The performance of schools in Greater Manchester is slightly below the national average. Some 61.8 per cent of students get five good GCSEs in Greater Manchester, compared to 64.9 per cent nationally.10 Following the progress made in improving school readiness in early years and tackling homelessness, both issues outside of the mayor’s formal powers, the mayor should use their soft power and position to convene and campaign for higher standards in Greater Manchester schools to surpass the national average.