Colleges have welcomed the news that the Skills Funding Agency's (SFA) allocations for 2016-17 include significant funding boosts for apprenticeships and traineeships.
As providers across England today received their allocations for next year, the SFA said the news was "positive" for the sector.
As well as maintaning current adult education budget levels, the SFA said its allocations included:
- a 19 per cent increase for 19+ apprenticeship allocations
- a 3 per cent increase for 16-18 apprenticeship allocations
- a 24 per cent increase for 16-18 traineeship allocations
- a 29 per cent increase on advanced learner loan facilities
Julian Gravatt, assistant chief executive at the Association of Colleges, said the SFA was "providing some stability for colleges in the adult education budget as well as increases in the funding available for apprenticeships".
“Adult skills funding has been cut by more than 35 per cent in the last five years so the decisions made in the spending review to direct more money to apprenticeships and to fix the adult education budget in terms of cash allocations are welcome," he said. "Although this does not restore past spending cuts, these allocations will help colleges as they make reforms in response to the government’s apprenticeship and devolution plans.
"At a time when the government has identified low productivity as a problem for the UK economy, there is an opportunity for colleges, employers, local enterprise partnerships and councils to work together to identify areas where these funds can be used to the greatest effect. It is already very late to make changes for a year that starts in August 2016 but work should begin now to prepare for 2017 and beyond. It would help if the government could find a way to issue two- or three-year funding allocations for colleges rather than one-year budgets.”
The SFA also warned that "apprenticeship allocations from April 2017 may be subject to change as new starts begin to come through the Digital Apprenticeship Service".
"It is important that providers factor this into their planning," the statement added.