Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, praised the skills pledges made by Hopwood Hall College and local employers at the College’s Shape the Future of Skills conference.
The conference, organised by the College’s Apprenticeship team, forged new partnerships with employers to create a 21st century industry-led curriculum to develop Rochdale borough’s next generation of skilled employees.
As the UK faces a skills shortage, the conference provided a rare opportunity for key influencers to plan together local solutions for the crisis in skills shortages with both medium to large employers and politicians attending the event.
Also speaking at the event was Rochdale MP, Tony Lloyd and Middleton MP, Liz McInnes. Along with a host of key industry influencers, they addressed over 60 of the area’s largest employers including RRG Group, JD Sports, The Guinness Partnership, William Hare, British Gypsum and Rochdale Boroughwide Housing.
Speaking at the event, Mr Burnham said:
“Coming to Hopwood Hall College I am really impressed by the facilities, the College is one of our best and we’re very proud of it.
“It’s become a lot harder for young people to make their way in the world and we have a lot of work to do to address the imbalance between technical qualifications and academic educational pathways. In Germany they are seen as equal, we need to have the same attitude and understand that both are needed and both are valuable in order to improve.
“This is the right conversation to be having right now. The skills challenge is at the top of the agenda for developing the economy of Rochdale and Greater Manchester and the time has come to do something different to build a stronger regional economy.”
His sentiments were echoed by the Hopwood Hall College Principal, Derek O’Toole:
“I’d like to thank all of the employers who have come today, along with our guest speakers who have provided some great insight into how we can all develop as one community.
“We feel it is important to drive change and work with employers to ensure we offer a relevant curriculum for their needs and it’s been really encouraging to see so many industry leaders want to be a part of that conversation and plan for change.
“To have Tony Lloyd, Liz McInnes and Andy Burnham in one room discussing these topics is a unique opportunity and it’s been a really positive experience having the three of them here. The time Andy gave for a Q&A with students from our Technology Centre was a brilliant example of the dedication shown by our political representatives on this issue.
“Going forward it will be important for ourselves, employers and local government to maintain this relationship and improve the future prospects of young people in the surrounding communities.”
At the end of the event, employers signed pledges to work with Hopwood Hall College on developing courses to ensure that Rochdale’s young people are given the best curriculum offering, work experience and apprenticeships.