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Author: Sean Anstee, Trafford Council

As leader of Trafford council, one of my priorities is to ensure that the future for school leavers in Greater Manchester is filled with opportunity and achievement. In my view, it is vitally important that young people in our region have access to the range of highly skilled and well-paid jobs that are available in our city. It is clear to me that the economic prosperity of Greater Manchester is dependent upon securing the right training and advice for its workforce, enabling them to engage and adapt to an ever-changing economic landscape.

My recent work developing Greater Manchester’s ‘Work and Skills Strategy’ is designed to cultivate a workforce that feel confident in improving their skills and progressing in their careers. To this end, I am pleased to see that the Children’s Commissioner’s Growing up North report focuses on the importance of a top-quality education for young people in the North. In Greater Manchester this means ensuring young people leave education with qualifications that prepare them for the world of work. It also means supporting young people in achieving higher skill levels, ensuring they are able to reach their potential and access degree equivalent courses if appropriate. The key to achieving such ambitions is, of course, a ‘fit for purpose’ careers advice programme that gives young people guidance and informs their decision-making. In prioritising these principles, I want young people in Greater Manchester to face the world of work with confidence and optimism.

The role of employers is equally important in building an effective skills and economy ecosystem. It is only by positively engaging with the business and service sectors that Greater Manchester can ensure young people are trained suitably for the jobs for which they apply.  Whilst this means strengthening employer engagement and making sure employers are at the heart of the skills system, it also means growing the quality and quantity of apprenticeships available to young people. Our improved employer engagement strategy showcases exactly what apprentices bring to many businesses and organisations in Manchester. The Greater Manchester ‘Work and Skills Strategy’ works with a wide range of local employers to encourage them to invest in their employees, providing them with in-work support, training top-up sessions and meaningful wage progression.

It is clear from the Children’s Commissioner’s report that young people can live fulfilling and successful lives in the North of England. They are incredibly proud of where they are from and are fully invested in the communities in which they have grown up. I believe that by adopting specific strategies around work and skills, local areas can provide these young people with a northern career and northern economy to match this.

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