City of York Council – York Learning Accountability Agreement

2023 – 2024

York Learning logo


York Learning is part of the Customer and Communities Directorate of City of York Council. We define our purpose as providing the gateway to opportunity for the city’s adults, (and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) enabling them to reach their full potential. Whether that be greater integration into society or to move into more-fulfilling employment roles we are keen to support individuals to thrive, improving their physical and emotional health and recognising the opportunities available to them.

We will achieve this through celebrating our key strategic purpose and using our funding to engage with our communities to support residents to feel confident, inspired and empowered to step through the door into learning.

A graph showing our vision, priorities and goals.

We see ourselves as an important service within the authority, using our funding to align with the city’s priorities for residents, (as shown above), whilst delivering against our agreed strategic aims:

  1. To clearly define the purpose of the adult learning services for all stakeholders
  2. To develop a curriculum offer that is in line with local skills needs
  3. To reach and inspire learning for the full breadth of the community demographic with the offer
  4. To be the provider of choice for those furthest away from the skills offer
  5. To protect the full aims of community learning within York and North Yorkshire
  6. To grow provision into areas not well supported by other providers
  7. To support a clear progression pathway for all adult learners from entry through to higher education and into sustained employment
  8. To provide effective value for money for the communities of York and North Yorkshire.

Context and place

York Learning as part of City of York Council provides largely Education and Skills Funding Agency funded adult and community learning provision, with additional income from dedicated project work, apprenticeships and the support for those learners aged 19-25 with Education Health and Care Plans.

York is a city of over 200,000 residents with around 60% of those residents qualified to NVQ 4 or above and less than 4% having no qualifications. The city contributes over £5bn to the UK economy and as such is a key driver in regional growth. Over 86% of the working age population is economically active with the 13.5% economically inactive containing over 6500 students and 2,900 retired individuals.

The detail below from the York 10-year skills strategy illustrates the key demographic data for the city.

A graphic showing York's economic situation

Our passion for adult learning continues to drive us to deliver effective programmes of learning to a range of adults with a particular focus on those from disadvantaged and marginalised communities. We want to offer inclusive services with high quality learning provision and support, which works well across the spectrum of need, whilst meeting the needs of our local economy.

York is a stunning place to live and is rich in history and culture, in a backdrop of outstanding natural beauty.  It has excellent education with the majority of schools rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. Over the past two years, the new national crime figures have revealed that the city has some of lowest crime rates in the country.  Within this context however there are areas of deep deprivation, a gap in live expectancy and distinct health inequalities.

Our service, and its partnership with North Yorkshire’s Adult Learning and Skills Service, has a major role in enabling residents across the region to achieve the best they possibly can and benefit from our thriving economy.

Our offer is delivered face to face from venues across the city, these venues include community centres, libraries and council owned buildings and increasingly other important community hubs such as foodbanks. Since the pandemic a large proportion of delivery takes place online but as a service it is a strategic aim to widen the mode of delivery, increasing face to face delivery but also expanding our blended, bite-size and on-demand provision.

York is home to two General Further Education Providers in Askham Bryan and York College and home to two universities. The wider geography of North Yorkshire is home to four General Further Education (GFE) providers (Craven, Scarborough TEC, Selby, Harrogate Colleges) with provision also provided by Darlington, Middlesbrough, East Riding, Bishop Burton and Stockton Riverside GFE providers. There are 40+ Training Providers operating in the county offering apprenticeships and accredited adult learning courses.

The York and North Yorkshire LEP Local skills report of March 2022 identifies a need to rebalance the apparent misalignment between the profile of classroom-based further education and demand in the labour market. The York and North Yorkshire Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) details that the area is well-served by high quality education at all levels but that there is a clear challenge in connecting with those individuals who would most benefit from this provision.

Research undertaken in production of the LSIP describes an economic landscape in the region consisting of a high proportion of higher-skilled, non-manual sectors such as education, finance and professional services contributing to a resilient economy. Unemployment levels are low with a high number of jobs available in highly skilled sectors such as agritech, engineering and life sciences.

The proportion of people with higher level qualifications in the region is higher than the national average (48% versus 43% in the Annual population survey Jan-Dec 2021) with an aging demographic of the population that has an older than average working age with replacement demand increasing in industries where large numbers are soon to or have retired, the LSIP stresses that retaining talent in the workforce at all ages is critical. The working age population contracted by 2% between 2011 and 2021 in strong contrast to the national picture which expanded by 4% based on census information

Census data from 2021 indicates that the largest employment sectors in the city are in in Health and Social work, retail, education and visitor economy linked roles. The graph also indicates a wide-ranging spread of other roles.

The city’s ‘Ten-year skills strategy’ also details several key strengths linked to skills:

  • High proportion of higher-skilled, non-manual sectors such as education, finance and professional services contribute to resilience in the economy.
  • Significant graduate pipeline that is attractive to employers.
  • Low numbers of people seeking work compared to other cities.
  • Growth in key sectors such as rail and construction with high demand for staff.
  • Vibrant visitor economy which offers flexible work to a broad range of people.
  • High number of job vacancies in highly skilled sectors such as health and engineering.

The chart below shows the proportion of the YNY workforce employed by sectors that are forecast to see growth or decline by 2027. Across the LEP area, over half of employees are engaged in sectors that will see decline, although this figure is smaller in York at 47.6%, it is still essential that we unlock people’s potential to adapt to an increasing skilled sector led market and to support residents by matching the skills of those in sectors with decline with opportunities created by sectors in growth.

% Employed in sectors forecast to see growth vs forecast to see decline

Given the vulnerability of the workforce within the LEP area (1 in 10 employed in Manufacturing, and over half in sectors that are forecast to see decline) and certain districts more specifically in terms of future-proofing employment and skills. Improving adult learning engagement has the potential to become a cornerstone for upskilling the workforce. Reflective of a need to upskill the workforce, around two-thirds of employers have upskilling needs in the LEP, with functional numeracy skills and basic digital skills in-particular being highlighted as an area for development.

Further key challenges for the city as identified in the City Skills Strategy but echoed in the LSIP that have potential skills solution include:

  • People needing new skills to access jobs in new sectors after they have been displaced due to automation or redundancy.
  • The demand for digital skills at all levels outstrips supply.
  • Current models of employment do not always support people to fulfil their potential e.g., those with disabilities, low skills attainment, caring responsibilities, neurodiversity.
  • High proportion of part-time jobs creates challenges with lower Gross Value Added (GVA) per resident.
  • High number of hard-to-fill vacancies and skills gaps in important sectors such as health and social care, rail and technology.
  • Ageing population is leading to a lack of skills as people retire from the workforce more quickly and in larger numbers than people can be trained or recruited.
  • The demographics for people in highly paid, higher-skilled jobs in STEM industries do not reflect the population, with a lack of representation from all parts of society

Approach to developing the plan

The Shared Head for Adult Learning and Skills (York and North Yorkshire) set out and consulted on a clear strategic vision for the adult learning provision provided by North Yorkshire and City of York Councils in December of 2021. This strategy and direction identified the need to support adults to access the training and support that can be provided by engagement in education.  This common strategy is important to support the wider economic requirements of the region and aims to enable strong lobbying support for the services once the adult education budget is devolved under a combined mayoral authority which is expected in the 2025/2026 academic year.

This strategic document was consulted on in July of 2022 and published in September of 2022, this document was produced utilising the extensively consulted research base of the York and North Yorkshire LEP and is one of many documents that have been used to formulate the York and North Yorkshire LSIP which additionally cites the York Economic Strategy, York & North Yorkshire LEP Skills Strategy 2012-26 and York & North Yorkshire LEP Sector Study March 2022, the emerging North Yorkshire Council Economic Strategy and the ‘Skills for Employment’ York’s 10 Year Skills Strategy. The LSIP also referencing other important partnerships such as the Yorkshire & Humber Institute of Technology, Grow Yorkshire, Bio Yorkshire and Higher York.

The Shared Head of Adult Learning and Skills is a board member of the York and North Yorkshire LSIP, and also a deputising member of the York and North Yorkshire LEP Skills and Employability Advisory board. Due to this involvement this document has been shaped in tandem with the LSIP with the clarity of our role and subsequent accountability detailed within the final LSIP documentation.

As detailed earlier York is home to two General Further Education (GFE) providers (with provision also provided by other GFE within the county). As discussed within the service strategy it is a key strategic direction to collaborate with our FE and HE partners and to co-ordinate progression pathways to serve as a pipeline for their adult provision to support the regions wider economic growth through upskilling and re-skilling.

Contribution to national, regional, local priorities

Strategic Aim for 2023/24: Increased progression from all forms of learning to most appropriate next steps


Actions and targets Link to local/National Skills Priority
Collaborate with other local educational providers to develop key progression pathways from engagement into programmes that support local and national skills strategies

  • To pilot at least one co-developed feeder programme for a priority sector with each FE provider within 2023/24
Pathways will be developed using LSIP / national priorities as pilots with FE / HE institutions utilising adult learning funding to reduce fear of emerging technologies
Career pathways identifying progression routes for learners across community learning and accredited programmes are marketed to public to ensure transparency of offer and progression opportunities

  • Published career pathways documents available and promoted within 2023/24 academic year with all courses mapped to it
To increase the numbers of adults accessing provision to support progression in work, transition to new career opportunities, gain employability and technical skills required by employers and fulfil their potential at work in line with LSIP priorities
Individual Learning Plans to reflect service and course intent with personalised goals set for learners based on their anticipated progression steps

  • Clear documentation in place that links personalised goals to progression for all learners
As above

Strategic Aim for 2023/24: Engagement with a wider demographic of learners

Actions and targets Link to local/National Skills Priority
Develop a suite of gateway provision that matches learner communities of interest to literacy, numeracy, communication or digital learning outputs

  • Each Curriculum area to work with one non-common demographic group to develop an engagement programme
To develop clear and supported pipeline of individuals progressing through adult learning service into specialist provision and improved employment opportunities.
Use the full range of available media to clearly position the adult learning services as the gateway to learning and future progression

  • Marketing campaign that focuses on the role of adult / lifelong learning and career development opportunities
To ensure that funding supports engagement with full population in scope and supports them to effectively progress

Strategic Aim for 2023/24: Develop the development, recognition and celebration of transferable skills

Actions and targets Link to local/National Skills Priority
Develop a package of clearly identified mid-career transferable skills programmes

  • Career-changer packages developed and marketed describing transferable skills and opportunities for progressions
To respond to the demographic challenge of retaining talent in the workforce as identified in the LSIP
Produce a set of ‘on-demand’ modules that are accessible to learners completing Maths, English and Digital courses to see how these skills are used in the workplace

  • On-demand modules produced and marketed to learners with progressions closely mapped
To support the LSIP request for all age careers guidance these modules will celebrate transferability but also signpost, coach and support people to find skills solutions to meet their career goals, these aspects will also be developed to focus on key sectors

Strategic Aim for 2023/24: Widen the accessibility of provision through the piloting of blended learning, multi-hub face-face learning, Bite-size and on demand learning programmes


Actions and targets Link to local/National Skills Priority
Each curriculum area to pilot at least one new delivery mode in 2023/24 academic year The LSIP identifies the importance of training that is accessible when individuals are able to access it, whether that be physically, on-demand or in small chunks

Strategic Aim for 2023/24: Develop opportunities for all staff to have at least one industry focused CPD day


Actions and targets Link to local/National Skills Priority
All staff to identify at least one opportunity to visit or engage in training in a priority sector within the academic year The LSIP identifies that there is an ongoing challenge for college and training provider tutors to stay current with regard to industry-standard equipment and innovation. Businesses identify that they think more could be done to ensure that tutors know and understand up-to-date systems and technology.

Strategic Aim for 2023/24: Develop the Level 3 Award in Education and Training Offer to support engagement and placement opportunities for industry specialist staff to widen the teaching pool


Actions and targets Link to local/National Skills Priority
Promote (initially internally within the council) the opportunity to learn to be a tutor for adult learning and to be given the opportunity to develop and run a feeder course for their industry

  • Measured increased recruitment onto programmes
The LSIP details that to train people in the technical skills required in priority sectors, there is a requirement for teachers and tutors with the relevant and industry-standard expertise to teach in these critical subject areas. The flexibility of the course offer lends itself to create an incubation hub for new, (but industry specialist) staff to access low-cost training but gain teaching expertise without leaving current role. Authorities offer a wide range of services where this could be piloted.

Strategic Aim for 2023/24: Develop the embedded focus of transferable skills, British values and safety to include sustainability


Actions and targets Link to local/National Skills Priority
Develop a pooled set of resources that can support ‘green upskilling’ within all provision to incorporate key sustainability messaging but also green economy recruitment opportunities.

  • Resources built and used
The transition to a green economy will requires the skills system to become increasingly agile and responsive to employer demand for skills as the economy grows and changes to respond to the reduction of carbon emissions. The starting point for this must be greater awareness of issues and opportunities and through embedded engagement this process can be started.

Corporation statement

This statement was agreed by the Executive member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Social care on July 18th 2023

Supporting Documentation