Press release

More must be done to meet skills needs in Greater Manchester

While there has been some progress, further education and skills providers must do more to help the local economy.


FE and skills providers in Greater Manchester are making good progress, but must do more to support businesses and the local economy, an Ofsted report finds.

As part of the aim to improve education and learning, Ofsted worked with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and New Economy, an authority-owned company working to create a better local economy. In the process, examples of good practice were identified as well as the barriers providers face in meeting local skills needs.

The report, ‘Meeting local skills needs’, highlights successes as well as areas for improvement for providers and employers in the Greater Manchester area.

Inspectors looked in detail at four sectors which were identified as being key to the Greater Manchester economy. These are:

  • the advanced manufacturing sector
  • the digital sector
  • the construction sector
  • the logistics sector

Whilst some providers are working collaboratively to ensure they identify gaps in learning and develop courses to meet skills needs, there was no overview across the region to ensure that course duplication is avoided.

Although most of the providers looked at had developed links with individual employers, this was not enough to ensure that the curriculum was ultimately meeting local needs. The tracking of learners’ destinations after they complete their courses is also in early stages which made it hard to judge whether provision was leading to secure employment or further training.

Whilst good progress is being made by providers in a number of areas, including collaborative efforts to offer work experience, these projects are very new and the impact is yet to be seen.

Commenting on the findings, Ofsted’s Regional Director for the North West, Jo Morgan, said:

Greater Manchester is the second largest economic region in the UK and has the fastest growing population in the country. Despite this, the region still has a comparatively low skilled workforce, with 15 per cent of residents having no qualifications and an unemployment rate above the national average.

It is good to see that there are providers in Greater Manchester who are working hard to ensure that their learners are given the education and training they need to support them in the choices they make - whether that means moving into vocational education, higher education or the world of work.

However, it is clear that currently more progress needs to be made. Providers and employers need to work closely with one another to ensure that courses are equipping learners with expertise that businesses are looking for. This is vital if we are to give learners in Greater Manchester the best chance of achieving their goals.

Ofsted has set out a number of areas for improvement for all parties involved. This includes:

  • FE and skills providers working collaboratively with employers of all sizes to make sure they are meeting local employment needs

  • New Economy working with FE providers to identify reasons for varying success rates across the area in apprenticeships and classroom-based qualifications and improve the quality of careers advice so learners know the choice available to them

  • the Greater Manchester Colleges Group and Greater Manchester Learning Provider Network developing a coordinated approach to the curriculum across the area to ensure it meets the skills needed and avoids duplication

Notes to editors

  1. The report ‘Meeting local skills needs – the responsiveness further education and skills providers in Greater Manchester’ is on GOV.UK.

  2. The further education and skills providers visited as part of the research were: Alliance Learning; Bolton College; British Telecom PLC; Bury College; Economic Solutions Limited; Hopwood Hall College; Mantra Learning limited; Tameside College; The Manchester College; The Oldham College; Trafford College; Salford City College; and Wigan and Leigh College.

  3. The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children’s social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

  4. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 0300 130 415 or via Ofsted’s enquiry line 0300 123 1231 between 8.30am to 6.00pm Monday to Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057 359.

Published 26 November 2014