West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges

Funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), the Reach Higher contract (£3.5m) will strengthen higher level skills training and support in the Leeds City Region. This contract will address skills gaps and shortages that are a barrier to growth in the City Region especially those identified in Infrastructure, Digital and Engineering and Manufacturing.


ESIF funding will be used to target those who have potential to achieve qualifications at Level 3 and above by delivering:

  • Activities to encourage people to take up high level education and training, particularly in subject areas relevant to the priority sectors of Leeds City Region including access and taster programmes to increase the participation of particular groups (e.g. female take-up of STEM provision);
  • Activities to improve the employability of people working towards higher level qualifications to enhance retention and attainment;
  • Supporting individuals from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in accessing and participating in high level education and training, supporting them to progress into/in work e.g. through the delivery of outreach activity
  • Support for work placement, internship and conversion programmes targeted higher level qualified individuals to ensure that they have the particular skills required for employment, particularly in Leeds City Region key growth sectors and skills shortage areas.

The consortium's seven Joint Venture colleges are currently working with industry professionals, employed individuals and employers to deliver projects that can bridge the gap into higher level training and widen participation. These projects are based on labour market intelligence and research findings that suggest there are barriers to progression faced by certain groups who do not traditionally go onto qualify at higher levels.

Ultimately, the contract's objective is to allow workers to change direction either through new job or business opportunities, a change of sector and/or those wishing to change careers and gain the skills and competencies to secure employment at a higher level. It will provide employers with a pool of qualified workers who can progress and make succession planning more achievable.

WYCC is working with industry professionals to develop a programme of specialist ‘Conversion Skills’ training. This will provide essential support for employed people (possibly already on a study programme) to convert/progress to higher level training.

Where relevant, the consortium will procure specialist-training providers to deliver these programmes.


Details of any WYCC commissions are advertised and managed through the In-tend website, where you must register to access the opportunities and to be considered for specialist delivery.

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