Following on from the London AEB event, Greater Manchester’s Combined Authority (GMCA) has released a PIN and soft market testing document for the Adult Education Budget, estimated at £25m per annum. Initially a 12 month contract with the option to extend up to 36 months, GMCA is seeking providers to express their interest and input ahead of formal market engagement events anticipated for the end of July and the procurement initiated by late October 2018. Current providers will be aware that delivery in devolved areas will be managed by combined authorities (or GLA in London) and non-devolved areas remaining the responsibility of the ESFA. GMCA have proposed that the procured provision may fall under two specific themes: Comprehensive skills support across GM to support all residents, and Innovative smaller projects that secure positive outcomes and test innovative delivery models for priority cohorts and sectors, this is further explored in the soft market testing document.

The document asks 15 questions of providers, to help GMCA draft and formulate a specification, including delivery models that would best deliver value for money, deliver basic and generic skills needed for life and work and higher and technical skills needed to drive productivity within GM’s growth sectors. Both the ESFA and GMCA have stressed the importance of providers knowing the split of their allocation within devolved and non-devolved as this will impact upon future funding. We anticipate the next six months will be busy with each of the (likely) nine devolved authorities communicating their intentions for AEB with the market, therefore early engagement with decision makers through soft market testing and expressions of interest (such as this exercise) will be paramount for training providers to inform their future business activity.

Further information can be found at