All 18- to 24-year-olds should receive a fully state-funded entitlement for level 2 and level 3 learning, according to the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP).
The AELP says the funding should be included in any government reforms that arise from the Augar Review, and could benefit 300,000 school leavers who don't go on to university per year.
Ahead of its annual conference next week, the association has estimated that the annual cost of the policy would be £3.9 billion, based on £6,500 in funding per learner per annum.
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Switch in emphasis
At the moment, the government funds the learning of 19- to 23-year-olds if they are studying level 2 and/or level 3 for the first time. This means that an individual who already has a level 2 qualification won’t get full funding to progress to level 3.
The AELP is also calling for a two-year entitlement of £13,000 to be applied as uplift for 16- to 24-year-old apprentices, subject to a 50 per cent limit of the relevant apprenticeship standard funding band.
Mark Dawe, chief executive of the AELP, said: “The Augar review quite rightly recommended a switch in emphasis on the funding of the 50 per cent of young people who go through the traditional higher education route and our proposals focus on how the government can best support the social mobility of the remaining cohort.
“Achieving a full level 3 qualification is increasingly regarded as a prerequisite for young adults to prosper in an uncertain world with increasing automation in the workplace.”