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The Tees Valley’s adult education budget has helped more than 17,000 adults across the region to improve their skills during its first year of devolution, new figures today (16 February) have shown.
Thousands of adults were reached despite massive disruption to the education and training sectors as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Due to national lockdown restrictions, providers had to move their teaching online so they could continue to support local people looking to improve existing skills and gain new ones.
The figures came as the funding allocation to the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority for the academic year 2021/22 has been confirmed at £30.5million. The cash, which is only awarded because the region agreed to have an elected Mayor, will be used alongside wider devolved powers to support training in local priority sectors, and to support local people back into employment.
One learner to be supported thanks to the funding is Carla Wood, who underwent training at training provider DTN Academy to become a Telecommunications Engineer at Map Group UK. Previously a self-employed dressmaker, Carla saw a downturn in business during the pandemic and registered her interest in the Academy’s Cabling Network Engineer training course.
Carla said: “When I first read that the telecoms industry was one of the top five sectors looking for skilled workers, little did I know that just over two months later I’d be employed within it as a fibre engineer!
“This year, I had found myself in a bit of a slump, a four-year degree with little to show in terms of employment. Then Covid-19 struck and had a drastic impact on my self-employed dressmaking business. I was pleased to be offered a place on the course and started the very next week.
“I found the practical sessions really interesting, working with fibre, splicing and testing. The final week of extra training was physically tough. Although I considered myself fit, I discovered muscles I had forgotten about, especially when dealing with the extendable ladders. I was so proud of myself for attaining the relevant accreditation, climbing a 33ft pole and overcoming an obstacle is not something everyone can say they’ve done successfully. Just over a week later and the call from Map Group UK put me on cloud nine!”
Mayor Houchen said: “Carla’s story is a great example of how, by having local control of our Adult Education Budget, we are able to make sure local people can be trained in sectors that are a priority for our local economy. As we recover from the pandemic this local control is even more important than ever before and means people from across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool can learn the skills that will put more money in their pockets for them and their families.
“Already we’ve seen thousands of local people improve existing skills and learn new skills and I look forward to seeing thousands more outcomes like Carla’s as we continue to help deliver quality adult education and training for local people.”
Cllr Bob Cook, Tees Valley Combined Authority Cabinet Lead for Education, Employment and Skills, said: “Having control of our adult education budget means we can address the needs of local people and deliver the sort of education they need to make a very real difference to their lives.
“Our training providers have been up against some huge difficulties over the past year, but our control over the budget has meant we can respond effectively in the face of these issues to make sure everyone has access to training, helping our companies and economy prosper.”