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Funding cut for 1,600 more skills qualifications, SFA announces

A further 1,600 skills qualifications will no longer be publicly funded due to low or no demand, the Skills Funding Agency announced today.

Following its annual review of qualifications, the SFA revealed that 972 qualifications with low demand - fewer than 100 enrolments a year - and 691 qualifications with no demand at all will not be available for new starts from 1 August 2015.

Skills minister Nick Boles said they were “cluttering up the system.”

It is the third review of the system carried out by the SFA, which has now seen two-thirds of publicly funded qualifications (6,900) being removed from government funding since 2013, leaving 3,100 remaining.

It is part of the SFA’s commitment to make skills qualifications more responsive and useful to careers.

A spokesman said: “We want a qualifications approvals process which ensures only robust, rigorous and relevant qualifications are funded and that both employers and learners understand the value of a qualification and the outcomes it leads to.

“We will continue to streamline the offer and ensure a strong focus on vocational qualifications which support progression and employment. This will lead to a reduction in the number of qualifications approved for funding.”

Skills minister Nick Boles said reforms to vocational qualifications were designed to meet the needs of employers and get people into work.

“Vocational qualifications must respond to local business needs, be respected by employers and help people into jobs,” he said.

“That’s why we are removing a further 1,600 qualifications from public funding, making a total reduction of 6,900 qualifications since 2013.

“The qualifications we are removing had few or no users, and are simply cluttering up the system.

“People who work hard towards publically funded qualifications must be able to trust that they are worthwhile and valued by employers, and a streamlined, comprehensible system is an essential part of this.”

The announcement was welcomed by Stewart Segal, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers. “We were pleased that the SFA involved all of the key groups in the review of these qualifications, including training providers," he said. "It would appear that qualifications which are being used effectively will remain fundable.”

David Hughes, chief executive of adult education body Niace, said the decision to remove funding for qualifications was a “complex area”.

“It is clearly right that qualifications should support people to get into jobs, progress in their careers and get on in life and we want people to achieve qualifications which are recognised and respected by employers and others," he said.

“But this should not be a simple numbers game; having fewer qualifications cannot be a sensible policy aim in itself.”

Mr Hughes said his biggest concern was that many of the qualifications on the list seemed to be in vital areas of the economy – including manufacturing technology, engineering and building and construction – where he said employers were “crying out” for highly skilled workers.

“Many are also at Level 3 and Level 4 where we know that the introduction of loans has had a dramatic impact on participation. So low numbers might not be because the qualification is not needed, but rather that the funding regime is not supporting people to access that learning.”


Related stories

Government axe falls on adult education courses in self-tanning and balloon artistry – March 2014

Ofqual details plan to improve functional skills qualifications – January 2015

Ofqual: vocational qualifications to come under greater scrutiny – October 2014

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