West Midlands

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is the combined authority for the West Midlands urban area. WMCA consists of one councillor nominated from each of the seven city and borough councils (Citiies of Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton plus Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull and Walsall) plus the elected Mayor of West Midlands. A number of councils covering areas in the wider West Midlands are non-constituent members of WMCA as are three Local Enterprise Partnerships in the area (Birmingham and Solihull, Black Country and Coventry and Warwickshire LEPs). WMCA was established in 2016 and acquired an elected mayor in 2017. The authority derives most of its powers from the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 and has powers over transport, economic development and regeneration. WMCA covers an area of 352 square miles and a population of 2.8 million. WMCA's website is here

Prior Information Notice (written 1 November 2018)

WMCA published a Prior Information Notice on AEB procurement at the end of October 2018 which explains the planned approach for procured activity. The information notice is here

. Points to note:
  • WMCA will issue information on its grant-funded approach in due course
  • the estimate that the AEB tender for procured work will amount to £25 million a year
  • the plan to issue one-year contracts renewable for up to 3 years
  • the strong emphasis on meeting WMCA priorities
  • the opportunity to register an interest and attend an engagement event on 30 November 2018

Adult education budget commissioning (written 10 August 2018)

WMCA's Regional Skills Plan set out the approach towards the adult education budget. The plan says that "in undertaking this role, we do not intend to take a ‘year zero’ approach. There is much excellent activity currently being delivered by providers and we will want this to continue. Equally, where we believe that different things need to be delivered, we will seek to secure the changes we need without disrupting or destabilizing our learning infrastructure".

WMCA will take on two concurrent approaches to commissioning activity:

  • Plan-led commissioning through the agreement of Delivery Plans with providers
  • Procurement.

The plan-led process will involve WMCA agreeing  Delivery Plans and Outcome Agreements with grant funded providers. There are specific priorities WMCA will be asking providers to respond to include:

  • Targeting low-skilled and low-paid adults in the workforce, or looking to enter employment, to secure skills at Level 3 and above to enable them to progress in employment with a particular focus on progression in priority sectors 
  • Deliver greater volumes of digital provision – the digital entitlement including basic digital skills for people to operate in a digital world; general level digital skills at level 2 and a significant increase at advanced level digital qualification at level 3 and 4
  • Increase the volumes of qualifications at all levels in priority sectors – construction and building technologies, automotive/advanced manufacturing, business and professional services and digital
  • More flexible models of learning delivery that supports adults in work to upskill
  • Deliver adult community learning provision to engage communities and support priorities relating to skills, cohesion and integration, health and mental health.
  • Targeting of people in WMCA's priority communities, working with Local Authorities and other key local stakeholders, to maximise impact and increase qualification levels and ultimately employment in those areas that have remained persistently difficult to change.
  • Improve progression between Levels and into employment - ensure there is support and progression routes in place to move people from basic skills through to Level 2 and into employment
  • Delivery of vacancy-led skills support programmes that deliver entry to employment for those out of work.

WMCA's approach to procurement will be informed by delivery through the plan-led process in order to avoid duplication and ensure that we maximise the impact of the funding. WMCA's commitment is to develop and communicate open and transparent procurement processes that seek to engage a wide spectrum of providers to deliver more for local residents and businesses.

Regional Skills Plan (written 10 August 2018)

WMCA's Council (which is chaired by the Mayor) approved a Regional Skills Plan in June 2018. The plan was drawn up following consultation with a range of organisations include the colleges who are co-ordinated via the recently created West Midlands FE Skills and Producivity Group.

The plan explains the challenges and issues in the area and sets out some high level objectives:

  • More apprentices
  • More investment in technical skills, especially digital
  • A more effective skills and careers system that works for all parts of society W

WMCA wants to bring universities, colleges and other training providers together with business and local government to co-ordinate and match skills to the new jobs being created. The initial focus is on four key sectors of the West Midlands economy – construction, automotive, digital, and business and professional services.