All CWM learners reported are funded through the Education and Skills Funding Agency, which funds learning up to 19.  

Learner number trends 

Overall the number of 16-19 funded learners is 6.6% higher than three years ago, despite a small dip since 2020/21.


The growth was almost all evident in areas outside the WMCA where growth in 16-19 numbers was over 13%, compared with 1.3% within the WMCA region. 

Level trends 

Over half of learners are studying at level 3 and above and this proportion is increasing steadily year on year. 

By contrast, the number of learners on level 2 and level 3 programmes is declining with those on entry level programmes remaining fairly static at just over 6% 

When comparing CWM learners in the WMCA postcodes with those in outlying areas, we see that a higher proportion of learners in the WMCA are studying at level 3 and the three-year growth has been almost 5% to 56.3% compared with a 3% growth to 52% outside the WMCA areas. 

In the colleges outside the WMCA the number of young people studying at level 2 dropped by 5% compared with a 3% fall within the WMCA areas.  

Location trends 

The local authority with the largest number of 16–19-year-olds is Birmingham where approximately 45% of 16-18 learners live. The next largest LA in terms of 16-19 numbers is Dudley with 4,370 learners in 2021/22. The LA areas that demonstrated growth in CWM college 16-19 numbers over the three-year period are Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton. 

Subjects and sector trends 

Over 50% of 16-19 learners at CWM colleges were studying the top six subjects (learning aims) in 2021/22: Construction, Health and Care, Preparation for Life and Work, Business, A Levels and Art and Design. 

Learners on Construction programmes grew by over 1,000 in the three-year period which represented a 26% growth.  Around 500 were living within the WMCA region and 500 outside, making the percentage growth of those living outside the WMCA 52%. 

Learners studying A-Levels increased by 512 with almost all (440) living in WMCA, making the A-Level growth 13% for WMCA residents. 

Learners with a Preparation for Life and Work learning aim increased by 440, with most of the growth outside the WMCA where numbers rose by 308 to 975, representing a 46% increase. 

Learners on Health and Care grew overall by 7% (284) with growth split roughly equally between the WMCA LA residents and those outside.  

There was a 66% growth in learners on Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Care programmes and 372 of these 552 additional learners were resident outside the WMCA regions. 

Although Business and Administration make up a large proportion of learning aims, the proportion of learners on these programmes is static oveall with 2% growth in the WMCA and 11% decline outside the WMCA. 

Other changes to note are: 

Priority Sector trends 

Overall the number of CWM 16-19 learners studying in the four priority sectors grew by 8% in the three years to 2021/22. 

The sectors which saw growth were Construction (26%) and Engineering (4%), Business, Administration and Law flatlined and there was a 7% drop in the number of learners studying ICT. 

Within the separate sector areas we saw a general trend towards higher level learning. 

A higher proportion of learners in Business, Administration and Law, Engineering and ICT studied at level 3 and there was a corresponding decline in the proportion at level 1 and level 2. 

In the case of Construction there was very little change in the proportion of learners studying at each level over the three-year period. 

Inclusion trends 


Looking at choice of subject area some persistent preferences are evident. Last year less than 10% of learners on the following programmes were female: ICT, Construction, Motor Vehicle and Engineering. And less than 8% of the cohorts on Childcare and Health and Care were male. 


The profile of all CWM 16-19 learners by the ethnic group with which they have identified was fairly stable over the three-year period. Overall White learners make up 50% of learners, with 25% identifying as Asian. 

When looking at the more detailed ethnic breakdown, the same stability is evident. There was a very marginal decrease in the proportion of White and Asian learners and a corresponding increase in students of mixed heritage and those whose ethnicity was described as ‘other’. 

White learners make up 49% of 16-19 students based in the WMCA area, compared with 63% of all CWM learners. In the WMCA patch, Black learners account for 12% of learners, double that in the wider region where CWM learners are resident.