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£9.4 million expansion of award-winning skills service to help 10,000 people in Liverpool City Region next year

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram has unveiled an ambitious £9.4m training and careers programme that will help plug skills gaps and support up to 10,000 people next year.

The plan includes a radical expansion of the mayor’s award-winning Be More apprenticeships portal to help upskill workers and jobseekers of all ages across the city region.

Up to £4.5m in grants will be distributed by the end of 2022 – supporting 1,500 businesses and helping 10,000 people to learn fresh skills or find new careers.

£2m will go towards free training for employees to tackle skills shortages in 19 designated areas, divided into leadership and management, basic business skills, soft support skills, and hospitality.

Launched in 2019, Be More was the UK’s first UCAS-style apprenticeship portal.

It was created as a part of Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s ambitious skills agenda and will be expanded to create a single port of call for employers, individuals and providers.

This larger-scale offering will be a key part of delivering Mayor Rotheram’s Young Person’s Guarantee – a guaranteed job, training or apprenticeship opportunity for any young person in the city region not in education, employment or training.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

“Our region’s greatest natural resource is our people. Resourceful, passionate and hardworking, they will always be the bedrock of our fortunes. But too often, people from our area are denied the chance to get on in life. Not because of a lack of talent, but a lack of opportunity.

“Levelling the playing field and fixing that imbalance has been one of my biggest priorities since I was first elected. From the initial launch of Be More – our award-winning UCAS-style apprenticeship portal that was the first of its kind in the country – to the launch of my Young Person’s Guarantee, I want to give everyone in the Liverpool City Region the best possible chance to get on in life.

“This radical expansion of Be More will be transformative for the service and should help 10,000 people by the end of 2022. As a former apprentice myself, I know the life-changing impact that decent training opportunities and good careers advice can have. I want everyone in our region to get those same opportunities.”

The LCR Skills and Apprenticeships Hub has been operating since January 2020, thanks to £3.96m from the Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) and, in November of that year, a £5.45m investment by the European Social Fund (ESF).

It was created to build key skills in the city region after employers reported serious skills gaps that were preventing growth.

The hub offers business engagement with Combined Authority Business Skills Brokers, apprenticeship support through the Be More portal and improved training delivery via partnership working with the Greater Merseyside Learning Provider Federation.

Following a survey in June 2021, a Priority Support Framework was drawn up to address historic skills gaps.

As a result, fully funded priority training will be provided in the areas of leadership and management, basic business skills, soft support skills, and hospitality.

This has been broken down into 19 key careers areas, including IT skills, foreign languages, marketing or tourism and hospitality

Up to 100% of funding can be provided for priority training, thanks to the ringfencing of £2m.

Employers across LCR are eligible to apply for training grants, small and medium sized firms (SMEs) can access grants to cover 70% of the cost, while firms employing more than 250 people will be entitled to claim 50%.

A meeting of the Combined Authority on Friday November 26 agreed to go-ahead with the website redevelopment and approved the Priority Support Framework.

Joanne Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool and Combined Authority Portfolio Holder for Education, Skills, Equality and Diversity, said:

“This project is so vitally important to help tackle the shortage of skills that holds back our residents, offering them the opportunity to reach their potential.

“Getting a job, training or apprenticeship is absolutely life changing but too often we hear of people who find it hard to access opportunities.

“This project is absolutely fundamental to making sure people of all backgrounds and ages are given a helping hand on to the employment ladder.”