Eight more institutes of technology (IoTs) are to be created, education secretary Gavin Williamson has announced.
Mr Williamson unveiled the £120 million proposals at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester today.
The announcement comes as Mr Williamson used his conference speech to vow to “super-charge further education” over the next decade.
The specialist Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) institutes are collaborations between colleges, universities and employers, offering higher-level technical training at levels 4 and 5. The announcement follows the first 12 IoTs opening this year.
The new wave of IoTs will be focused in the North West, Teesside, the East Midlands and cities along the south coast.
Institutes of technology 'in every big city'
Ahead of the conference, Mr Williamson told The Guardian that the move would help end the FE sector’s image as a poor relation. It comes after the announcement last month of an additional £400 million to increase the 16-18 base rate of funding for the first time since 2010.
The education secretary will also announce plans to expand the specialist maths college programme, following the opening of the Exeter and King’s College London maths schools.
“Ultimately, I want to see all the regions in this country have a specialist maths school, I want every big city to have at least one great institute of technology that can act as a focus to drive forward technical and vocational qualifications, working closely with industry and higher education institutions,” he said.
'We're going to super-charge FE'
Mr Williamson also unveiled plans for a “skills and productivity board”, made up of " leading labour market economists to advise him on policies to drive forward the provision of world-leading skills and qualifications". This "will be geared towards ensuring the courses undertaken by students will fit with to the demands of the workforce of tomorrow".
The education secretary said: “Apprenticeships, technical and vocational education are just as valuable as university education and they are at least as important to our economy. We want to ensure that in the next decade, we beat Germany on the opportunities we give to those taking technical and vocational routes.
“We’re going to super-charge further education and set our sights high. We will ensure equal focus is given to all young people, whether they choose the technical, vocational or academic routes.”