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.
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.
The 3 key cross-cutting priorities that require action are:
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:
(The Vision for Education 2030: Shaping a City of Learning, 2017)
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:
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.