The newly elected mayor opened proceedings, speaking to an audience of nearly 200 staff from 10 of the largest Further Education providers in Greater Manchester. The event was held to share knowledge and best practice, disseminate key messages about the future of apprenticeships, and provide practical opportunities and advice to help staff get to grips with particular standards in their sector areas.

Other speakers across the day-long event included Kat Healey of Seddon Construction, North West chair of the Association of Colleges, Richard Caulfield and Paul Robottom, from City & Guilds.

Speaking at the event, the Mayor announced a new deal for apprentices in Greater Manchester, saying: “No young apprentice in Greater Manchester should be paid less than the national minimum wage for other young people in work. £3.50 an hour is simply not enough. Public sector bodies in Greater Manchester are already leading by example and working towards paying young apprentices the proper national minimum wage. It’s time for every employer in Greater Manchester to follow suit.“But we know that apprenticeships are more than just a way to make a living, it’s about getting the skills to release your full potential and kick start your career.

“Over the next three years Greater Manchester’s public sector will deliver 10,000 new apprenticeship starts. Our offer to them should be: we will pay you a fair wage and give you the real skills to be all you can be.”

The GMAC partnership, which launched as a national first in 2016, is a collaboration between nine colleges from the Greater Manchester Colleges Group, and training provider The Skills Company, part of the Manchester Growth Company. Funded by the Greater Manchester combined Authority, the partnership aims to drive the quality and volume of apprenticeship opportunities in the region through the provision of excellent support and advice to young people.

Anna Dawe, Principal at Wigan &Leigh College, added, “It has been a privilege to host the inaugural Greater Manchester Apprenticeship Company staff conference. The event is a culmination of partners working together over the past year and highlights how partnership working and collaboration can be one of our most effective tools in shaping our response to the Government’s strategies and targets for apprenticeships.

“By working collaboratively we can address the specific skill-need priorities of Greater Manchester which in turn meets our local employers’ needs and provides new and exciting opportunities for our communities.”

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