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National Education Service is solution to skills crisis, says Labour

Shadow skills minister responds to comments from Robert Halfon, with both proposing shifting funding from HE to FE

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Shadow skills minister responds to comments from Robert Halfon, with both proposing shifting funding from HE to FE

The narrow focus on school leavers progressing to university has been to the detriment of the FE sector, the shadow skills minister has said.

Labour’s Gordon Marsden was speaking after education select committee chair Robert Halfon gave a speech on Monday in which he called for a rebalancing away from "lavishly furnished" universities towards FE providers, in a bid to tackle the skills crisis.

Marsden agreed, but said Jeremy Corbyn’s proposed National Education Service would be the best way to redress the balance.

'Detrimental' for FE

He added: “A continuing narrow focus on traditional 18-to-21-year-old HE students and statistics has been to the significant detriment of FE and older, part-time and mature students.

“That is why we are committed in our approach to our National Education Service – to a system that works across the whole age spectrum – and our commitment of a standing committee on life-long learning will make huge strides in this area.”

Skills revolution

Mr Halfon was speaking earlier today at an event co-hosted by the Centre for Social Justice, the Learning and Work Institute and the Open University that explored how to create a "skills revolution" in education.

HE funding needed to be urgently redirected towards courses and degrees with a technical focus, and FE colleges were ‘ideally placed’ to offer such provision, he argued.

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