A Fylde coast businessman has been recognised as a leading light in the North West skills sector.
The North West Skills Academy, which specialises in up-skilling the construction industry, was praised by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) Scrutiny Pool as a shining example of how the skills agenda is delivered successfully.
Pool chair, Coun John O’Brien, called upon North West Skills Academy director and former Cardinal Allen High School pupil Samuel Riley, 29, to explain to 30 elected councillors how Greater Manchester can learn from the Lancashire-based organisation.
All 1,500 people who undertook training with North West Skills Academy in the last 12 months are currently in employment, with a qualification achievement rate of 87 per cent.
Samuel first impressed councillors at a GMCA and AGMA Task and Finish group regarding skills, following which his recommendations were included in the Skills and Employment Partnership.
It resulted in the invitation to the Scrutiny Pool board meeting to discuss key issues including how the skills sector can take advantage of devolution, the merits of an apprenticeship over a diploma only programme, and access to funding. Samuel, director of North West Skills Academy, said: “It was an honour not only to be recognised as an organisation which is leading the way in the construction skills sector, but also to provide recommendations and support.
“We need to work together and integrate to make change. This is a great start, especially because we have an opportunity under devolution and that excites me.
“For example, funding needs to be flexible. At the moment it’s prescribed by people aren’t on the ground and providers are told what they can deliver based on what bracket individuals fall into. I’d like to see it reversed so that when a person comes through the door and is telling a provider what skills they need, we can say yes.”
The North West Skills Academy has sites in Rossendale and Worsley, and has just been awarded ESF Skills for the Workforce contracts to provide fully funded training for up to 1,000 learners across the region.