The further education sector has responded to chancellor Philip Hammond’s plans to commit an additional £500 million each year to training for 16 to 19-year-olds on technical programmes.
In a series of announcements made yesterday ahead of the spring Budget, Mr Hammond said that the extra funding would increase the amount of training available for the age group to over 900 hours per year – a rise of more than 50 per cent - and ensure students benefited from a “high-quality industry work placement”. According to reports over the weekend, the new qualifications will be known as T levels.
According to the Treasury, the move would ensure that “when young people leave college they have the skills, knowledge and expertise that employers want”.
Other announcements made yesterday included plans to offer maintenance loans to students on higher technical courses, and creating a fund of up to £40 million for “piloting new approaches to encourage lifelong learning”.
Here are some of the responses from the sector:
Lord Sainsbury, chair of the Sainsbury review of post-16 education
“The news that the government is to commit significant investment to the development of technical education should be welcomed by everyone who cares about increasing national prosperity and improving social mobility.
“Targeted investment of this type makes economic sense – our international competitors recognised long ago that investing in technical education is essential to enhancing national productivity. But it is also essential if we are to equip people with the knowledge and skills they need to obtain rewarding and skilled employment in the future.
“The expert panel I chaired last year called for all young people following technical education programmes to have an entitlement to a high-quality work-placement. We also called for increased levels of core funding to allow colleges to invest in their staff and facilities so that technical education in England could match the best in the world. I am delighted that the government has made this vitally important investment in our young people.”
Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI
“Businesses are delighted by the government’s announcements, which they and the CBI have long been calling for. Increasing the number of teaching hours for technical subjects is fundamental to delivering world class training for our young people in every part of the UK.
“There has never been a more important time to address the UK’s skills shortages. Investment in skills by employers and the government, working together in partnership, are the key to giving young people the opportunities they need to succeed.
“And with the majority of people who will be working in 2030 already in the workforce now, the proposed focus on adult skills provision will put this type of training on the right path to major and necessary improvement. This will be very important in the face of fast-changing economics and technology.”
Paul Eeles, chair of the Federation of Awarding Bodies
"We welcome the chancellor's positive move to invest more in technical education for young people. The increased investment will allow for more contact hours and will help to drive up standards in Britain.
"Ensuring each technical route is supported by robust qualifications, developed and delivered with employers, will be vital to raising productivity.
"The government must now look to address Britain's ageing workforce, and invest accordingly to ensure older workers are provided with the opportunity to refresh and update their skills to remain competitive in the labour market."
Stephen Evans, chief executive of the Learning and Work Institute
“We are pleased the chancellor has recognised the need for additional funding for technical education. This will help increase the number of contact hours for 16-19 year olds to better match the best in the world, something the Learning and Work Institute has argued for. This should help better prepare young people for our global future. It is a step change we need for post-Brexit Britain to succeed and thrive.
“The next step is providing the investment needed to help Britain’s working age population meet the challenges facing it. An ageing population, longer working lives and poor productivity require a thriving and dynamic adult education system, yet we now have 1 million fewer adults in learning than in 2010.
“The announcement of a new £40 million fund to test new approaches to lifelong learning shows that the government recognises that retraining and upskilling is essential throughout people’s working lives. The Learning and Work Institute's proposals for Personal Learning Accounts would provide people with the means and incentives to invest in their future alongside employers and the state.”
Mark Dawe, CEO of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers
“The increased investment in technical skills for a post-Brexit Britain is welcome. Combined with apprenticeships, this will have a real impact. The job is to get implementation right and make sure there is equal access for all – learners, employers, communities – and there are no weak rungs on the government’s desired ‘ladder of opportunity’, especially the lower ones.
“We want to see careful use of the money to generate the best outcomes for learners and employers, and stop haemorrhaging scarce resource trying to prop up 20th century delivery models.
“It is also vital that 16 to 18 year olds retain a genuine choice between a high quality work based learning route such as an apprenticeship and a classroom option. Investment in apprenticeships for this age group with opportunities available in businesses of all sizes over the long term should be an important element of the government’s social mobility agenda."