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Transforming Skills across Greater Manchester

Written on 16th February 2022

In 2019, the Conservative government’s manifesto promised ‘levelling up’ across the country, essentially improving opportunities nationwide, especially in those communities that have been left behind – many in the north.

As the government begins to reveal their plans to level up, it has promised to review and improve areas including pay, health, education and employment rates. At the end of 2021, unemployment levels were on the rise, with the highest rates found in the North East (5.3%), North West (4.4%) and Yorkshire and The Humber (4%)1

One area that can directly impact employment and productivity within a region is the education available to close the burgeoning skills gap and help transform skills across the community. 

The Challenge

Essentially the skills gap is where employees don’t have the skills and experience that they need to do their jobs. 

Over the past few years, the skills gap has been widening with UK employers spending £4.4 billion on temporary staff, recruitment fees and increased salaries over the past 12 months. This incredible spend is due to the increasing struggle to find staff with the right qualifications and experience.

Current demand shows that there are 17.4 million high-skilled jobs but only 14.8 million high-skilled workers, leaving a shortage of around 3 million employees required. Whilst this is impacting those who want to find work, it is also hitting businesses hard as more than two-thirds (68%) of UK employers struggle to find skilled workers2.

The Solutions


Apprenticeships allow students of all ages to undertake formal employment while also studying for a qualification. This enables students to have both the right skills, knowledge and experience alongside the qualifications to pursue a rewarding career in their chosen industry including Engineering, Accounting, Financial Services and more.

Students usually spend 80% of their time in employment and 20% in the classroom.

T Levels

Introduced in 2020, T Levels are designed with the support of businesses, with the aim of helping young people to excel in their chosen field and accelerate their career with top level technical education. 

Students undertaking a T Level will spend 80% of their time in the classroom and the remaining 20% on a minimum 45-day placement with an employer.

T Levels are available across a range of industries including Construction, Digital, Education and Childcare and Health and Science, with more planned over the coming years. 

 Higher Technical Qualifications

Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) provide an exciting new opportunity for students aged 18 and over. Aimed at adults, the new route offers a high quality technical pathway to rewarding careers resulting in a Level 4 and 5 qualification.

HTQs have been developed in collaboration with employers to produce business-ready graduates.

The courses are also backed by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. This stamp of quality gives students and employers peace of mind to know the course delivers the knowledge, practical skills and experience that equips students for a range of roles in the industry, which remain in high demand.

Currently available is the BTEC Higher National Diploma in Computing, with new courses to follow in 2023.

GMCG Offer to Students & Employers

Our nine Further Education colleges across all parts of Greater Manchester offer Apprenticeships and T Levels and are currently supporting over 5000 apprenticeship students and over 400 T Level students to achieve their qualifications and gain employment.

Currently eight of our colleges are offering the BTEC Higher National Diploma in Computing from September 2022, with all nine colleges to offer HTQs from September 2023.

Our colleges work with hundreds of local employers to meet their workforce skill needs and continue to invest in industry standard facilities to ensure students have access to the best quality equipment and teaching.

Discover more about the high quality, accessible technical education on offer at our Greater Manchester colleges today.



1 Office for National Statistics

2 HR Director