About Wolverhampton City Learning Region
What is a Learning Region?
Learning Cities / Regions is an international movement developed and coordinated by UNESCO. A learning city / region promotes learning throughout life (lifelong learning) for all, to enhance individual empowerment and social inclusion, economic development and cultural prosperity, and sustainable development.
Our Story - Wolverhampton City Learning Region
The University of Wolverhampton, an international expert in Lifelong Learning, has acted as a catalyst to bring the UNESCO learning city concept to the region and play a key role in developing the Wolverhampton City Learning Region initiative.
The University of Wolverhampton and City of Wolverhampton Council formally launched the City of Wolverhampton Learning Region initiative in 2017 along with key partners and organisations linked to economic and social development, including Wolverhampton Learning Platform, City of Wolverhampton College, Local Enterprise Partnerships, employers, schools and colleges.
The launch event involved the full and diverse range of stakeholders and city leaders in a consultation on the challenges faced and priorities required. Agreement was reached on the need for the initiative to focus both on where people live and work rather than administrative boundaries (thus the term City Region) and on the 3 key cross-cutting priorities that require action – realising aspirations, skilled workforce, and engaging adults in learning to improve health and well-being. The goal of working to ensure that everyone can benefit from learning throughout their lives already forms part of the work of all the key education partners but needs to be expanded across all parts of the region and formally understood and represented as vital to economic and social development.
The City of Wolverhampton is committed to improving skills levels and progression opportunities and increasing sustained employment for its residents. The City is working actively with Black Country and Combined Authority partners across the region to address skills and productivity challenges and the learning city initiative will help provide an important impetus to this work.
Together we believe that the key to personal, community and regional growth lies in the transformative power of learning to improve prosperity for all - learning of all types, at all levels and for all reasons.
The goal of the initiative is to put learning at the heart of the Wolverhampton City Learning Region which includes the City and its surrounding areas that face similar problems linked to aspiration, a skilled workforce and increasing understanding of the vital role that learning plays in economic and social development.
The City of Wolverhampton Council has incorporated the Wolverhampton City Learning Region initiative into its Strategic Economic Plan 2018 to 2030 and it is embedded as a core work stream of the Education, Skills and Employment Board (which reports directly to the City Board), under the Working and Inclusive City theme.
The City of Wolverhampton is one of the ten fastest growing cities in the UK for economic growth and forms one of three cities in the UK government’s devolved West Midlands Combined Authority. With a population of 259,000, Wolverhampton communities are diverse. Successful partnerships exist between the City of Wolverhampton Council, education, health, police, voluntary, community and private sectors to focus on tackling its social and economic challenges. Skill levels are improving in the City however there is a shortage of higher level skills, a high percentage of people in receipt of Employment Support Allowance whom are experiencing mental ill-health, young people needing support to realise aspirations / gain employment and the percentage of children in workless families is almost double the national average.
Wolverhampton City Learning Region – Priorities
The 3 key cross-cutting priorities that require action are:
Priority 1: Realising Aspirations
- This is defined as: cooperative working to increase the fulfilment of aspirations through learning by engaging families, schools, voluntary sector and faith groups and to foster accessible formal, informal and non-formal learning. To ensure that children, young people and adults of all ages have access to a breadth and range of learning opportunities which inspire, encourage and enable them to fulfil their aspirations and realise their ambitions.
Priority 2: Skilled Workforce
- This is defined as: to secure a more effective skills chain development between high skills employers and local supply chains and foster skills development in SMEs. To ensure that people develop the skills they need to access and progress in work. This will be underpinned by impartial advice, accessible and relevant vocational training and high-quality apprenticeships and wider workforce training. Businesses will be actively involved in and help shape the training offer.
Priority 3: Engaging Adults in Learning to Improve Health and Wellbeing
- This is defined as: working in partnership to address mental health and wellbeing through learning and ensuring that adults in the city have access to a range of accessible and engaging learning activities. Supporting adults with mental health problems into education and training opportunities to reach their aspirational potential and removing any barriers to learning or engagement.
The City of Wolverhampton has effective partnership working and collaboration by all of the City’s public, private and third sector key partners to ensure that a commitment to lifelong learning is encouraged to enable citizens to believe in their own ability, reach their aspirational potential, improve their economic success and be part of the region’s regeneration and prosperity.
The learning region is encapsulated in The Vision for Education 2030: Shaping a City of Learning and is based on earlier developmental work undertaken by key partners independently and jointly.
We aspire to see the City of Wolverhampton become a city of learning where:
- An ethos of quality underpins the provision of continuous learning opportunities for all children, young people and citizens within the city.
- Partners work together to create an education system that provides local solutions to local challenges.
- Access to learning is available for all levels and to all ages with increased participation from hard to reach/disadvantaged communities.
- Learning is innovative and technologically advanced and narrows the skills gap to develop a highly skilled workforce, joining skills to future business needs.
(The Vision for Education 2030: Shaping a City of Learning, 2017)
Wolverhampton City Learning Region Key Lead Stakeholders
Our Partnership Ambition
Partnerships matter and to ensure sustainability of the Wolverhampton City Learning Region, effective partnerships are developing with all sectors (public, private, third). The aim is to bring everyone together to invest in the long-term ambition of building a learning region.
The Wolverhampton City Learning Region offers exciting opportunities for partners to work together, both strategically and on the ground, to:
- Provide a strong and shared vision and direction for lifelong learning in the City Learning Region;
- Ensure long-term planning in which strong leaders promote lifelong learning and go above and beyond their organisational remit to achieve it;
- Ensure a broad interpretation of learning which advances equality, health and well-being, employment and social cohesion;
- Effectively target activity to meet evidenced needs and address gaps;
- Share knowledge;
- Minimise duplication of funding and effort;
- Sustain and embed effective interventions.
- Collaboratively work together to put learning at the heart of the region and focus on the means by which learning creates transformation to achieve economic and social development and growth.
Member of UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities
City of Wolverhampton is a member of the UNESCO Network of Global Learning Cities (GNLC), which aims to support and accelerate lifelong learning, and makes an important contribution towards achieving sustainable development goals.
The UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities consists of around 200 cities in 40 countries which are united in their determination to promote lifelong learning and, through it, sustainable development in their cities.