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Work and Skills Multiply

Community groups to break down barriers to employment with new £5m programme

A transformational £5m employment and skills programme will empower Greater Manchester’s residents to reach their future goals.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has launched its Community Grants Programme, which will address barriers that may prevent local people from accessing the city-region's varied employment and learning programmes.

Managed by the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) on GMCA’s behalf, Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations and Housing Associations will have the opportunity bid for funding of up to £100,000 to invest in a flexible and free local offer, ensuring support is targeted to those who need it most - in particular residents with basic entry level qualifications.

Applications for the first round of funding will open by the end of October 2023.

As well as supporting residents to overcome barriers that may prevent them from accessing learning opportunities, the programme will offer capacity building support to smaller VCSE organisations so the programme can benefit as many grass-roots groups as possible.  

Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, Greater Manchester’s lead for Technical Skills and leader of Bury Council said: “Our new Greater Manchester Community Grants Programme is a step forward to achieving our ambitions of developing a responsive, integrated labour market that enables all people to achieve their full potential.

“It’s a long-term commitment to supporting residents who want to progress their learning or move into employment but for various reasons may be unable to or unsure how to get started.

“VCSE organisations are critical to engaging those furthest away from the labour market and after speaking with the sector about current education, work and skills support, we have used their feedback to influence this programme.

“We’ll work closely with WEA and other partners including local authorities throughout so that support responds to emerging needs and reaches those who need it most and is delivered in the heart of communities.”

The programme will enable two strands of activity over the course of five years, which are jointly funded through Greater Manchester’s devolved Adult Education Budget, UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) and Multiply. They are:

  1. Essential Life Skills (funded via Multiply & GM’s devolved Adult Education Budget): This strand will look to increase participation in adult skills by exploring new and innovative ways of engaging with residents and supporting them into learning opportunities suiting their needs. It will focus on the city-region's working age adults with basic entry level qualifications.
  2. Progression towards inclusive employment (funded via UKSPF): This strand will tackle the various barriers some residents are facing that may prevent them from engaging with existing learning opportunities.

Debbie Gayle, Head of Education at WEA said: “Our mission is to bring adult education in reach of everyone who can benefit from it. To achieve this, we work in partnership with many community organisations to reach those who need education most. Supporting GMCA on this programme was a clear fit for us. We are all about creating opportunities. 

'We're in the process of setting up how we will manage applications. In the meantime, interested parties are welcome to express an interest by emailing us and we will notify them when we are ready to receive applications.”

Application dates will be added to WEA’s website in due course. For more information about Greater Manchester’s Community Grants programme, please visit the GMCA or WEA websites.

Article Published: 19/10/2023 09:43 AM