The Tees Valley’s devolved £30.5million Adult Education Budget has “changed the life” of one local person – taking her from bobsleigh to telecoms – as figures revealed it has helped more than 50,000 adults participate in learning.
The allocation for the coming academic year was recently approved by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and the Combined Authority Cabinet, alongside an extra £5.8million for other adult education programmes.
Since taking control of the Adult Education Budget in 2019, 53,233 local people have undertaken post-19 education, allowing them to boost their skills or retrain to secure good-quality jobs.
Jo Manning, from Middlesbrough, was looking for a change in career after 20 successful years managing and developing sports pathways into bobsleigh and skeleton around the world, which helped many people compete at Olympic, Elite, National and Youth Olympic levels.
She registered her interest in DTN Academy’s telecommunications course to give her more knowledge and training in fibre optics, which led to her starting a job with Avonline Networks as a Fibre Installation Engineer. In February 2022, following her impressive performance on the course and her experience and background in training, Jo joined Stockton’s DTN Academy as a tutor.
Jo said: “It’s fantastic to be back at DTN where I learnt so much about telecommunications and particularly fibre optics. I was fortunate enough to find employment with Avonline on completion of the course and this provided me with some much-needed experience in the field.
“I can now use the knowledge and skills I learnt during my time in training at DTN and experience I have gained at Avonline, to pass onto any future delegates that are either already in the industry and need upskilling or any potential new engineers who like me, want to break into the telecoms industry.
“I would absolutely encourage anybody to do an adult education course. It was absolutely amazing and it changed my life post-Covid.”
A total of £3.3million has been secured for Skills Bootcamps, offering free, flexible courses allowing people to build up sector-specific skills including in digital, construction, clean energy and HGV driving. A further £2.5million was awarded to provide free training and qualifications for adults without a Level 3 qualification – A or AS Level or equivalent.
The region is also on course to receive around £3.6million as part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund’s Multiply programme to improve adult numeracy so they can achieve maths qualifications up to and including GCSE level (Level 2).
Mayor Houchen said: “Jo’s success is just the latest in a long line of fantastic stories we’re hearing since we took control of our Adult Education Budget. With direct control over how this is spent, we can target funds to where it’s needed most, helping to give our businesses the skills they need to thrive. Most importantly, though, it’s making a real and clear positive change in the lives of tens of thousands of people across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.
“The extra funding that we’ve secured for Skills Bootcamps and Level 3 will complement our already strong offer, opening up more opportunities for those in employment or who want to retrain. Government’s Multiply programme too will target people who need it most and give them a leg-up to get a maths qualification.
“Of course, adult education is just one strand of what we’re doing to make sure every single person living here has the ability to secure a well-paid, good-quality job right here. Our careers education now beginning at primary level, and support is coming right through to post-19 studies so no one is left behind.”
Cllr Bob Cook, Tees Valley Combined Authority Cabinet Lead on Education, Employment and Skills, said: “Our control over the adult education budget means we can address the needs of local people like Jo and provide the sort of education and qualifications they need to prosper, whether that’s to upskill or to change careers altogether.
“It also means we can tackle the challenges faced by individuals and businesses, ensuring everyone has access to training opportunities which make a huge difference to the lives of others.”