David Cameron has pledged to simplify funding for colleges and set aside Pounds 100 million to enable new training providers to enter the market, writes Joseph Lee.
After a visit to Castle College Nottingham, the Conservative leader said a revived Further Education Funding Council would offer colleges more freedom to work, and a Pounds 100m Neets fund (for those not in employment, education or training) would allow charities and community groups to enter the training market.
"Our FE colleges are so put upon and micro-managed by the Learning and Skills Council," he said, "they are told which qualifications they must offer and to whom. This means they are unable to fulfil what should be their essential function - to respond to the needs of the local economy, local business and local people. That needs to change."
His speech came as the Government's Apprenticeships, Children, Skills and Learning Bill unveiled details of the proposed new funding system, with local authorities funding 16-19 education, overseen by the Young People's Learning Agency, and training for adults under the Skills Funding Agency.
The Association of Colleges said it would stress that the plans needed to preserve college independence and guarantee a national funding formula for 16-19 education, ensuring a level playing field between schools and colleges.
It also warned that the Skills Funding Agency could become less transparent than the LSC as it would not be an independent body.