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Mayor's Blog: Keep Calm and.....Qualify

1 May 2020

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People in our region are incredibly versatile in making the best of whatever situation they  find themselves in. If life gives them lemons, they don’t get sour, they fix a G&T - and then have a party.   

But I’m still impressed at how quickly they’ve clicked into life online, not just using digital to defy the virus and keep socially-distanced, but using it to acquire new qualifications that will give them an edge in the post-Covid marketplace.  

And I’m proud that the Combined Authority’s work has been at the heart of this, making ‘upskilling’ a reality for so many.  Demand for our courses has rocketed since the C-19 outbreak, but the team didn’t miss a beat in switching lessons from community halls and colleges to the virtual classroom I now think of as the ‘zoomroom’.  

Lockdown learners across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough now log into video seminars, do their prep in digital workbooks, and receive 1-2-1 phone tutorials. As a result, we’ve kept across the rush for places, and our learners can calmly carry on with their chosen training regardless of lockdown.

Many in key sectors like warehousing, health and social care will help keep essential services running in the future.  Courses in retail, engineering, manufacturing and IT have also flown off the shelves, each one helping create a more capable and flexible worker in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough’s increasingly agile skillsforce.   

Hard to believe we only took control of the region’s Adult Education Budget in August last year, but already, thousands of people have completed the free-to-access studies we offer.

11,000 courses taken so far - and counting. With 94% of learners completing.

The Combined Authority has funnelled the adult learning budget  - £11.5 million of Westminster money - into some of our region’s most deprived areas, giving people with no job a leg-up into employment and helping others to get the ‘bits of paper’ they need to apply for better jobs.  

Assisting ambitious people by offering free access to the practical training they need to get back into work, or to further themselves in their careers, is a priority for me - and it’s why I took control of adult education for our region.  

I couldn’t be more delighted at the take-up of the courses, particularly in places where the lack of access to skills training is a barrier to employment.  It’s a fact of life that we all need this or that bit of paper to get on, and the surge in demand for qualifications at this troubled time shows that people want to skill themselves up with the versatility to get on and get ahead.