Skills and training will feature heavily in the Liberal Democrats' election manifesto
Skills and training will feature heavily in the Liberal Democrats' election manifesto, with the party committed to expanding apprenticeships and creating a single funding body for adult further and higher education, according to Lib Dem skills secretary Stephen Williams.
Responding to questions in this week's live webchat for FE Focus, Mr Williams said that the party's manifesto would definitely call for an "enhanced future" for FE. He managed to answer almost 30 questions during the hour-long webchat on Tuesday and described the 50 per cent participation target for higher education as "fatuous", and said that the party favoured an holistic approach to adult education with one funding council for adult FE and HE: the Council for Adult Skills and Higher Education (CASHE).
Responding to a question asking what can be done to stop FE being used as a "dumping ground" for "challenging" teenagers that schools "don't want to teach", Mr Williams said: "FE already is a huge provider of choice for post-16 and I see no reason for it not to be so at 14 to 16 too."
He said his party was committed to closing the 16-19 funding gap between schools and colleges and that it was madness that free meals were not also offered to FE students. The Lib Dems would also increase spending on apprenticeships with incentives for small employers.
FE Focus is planning a webchat with the Conservatives' shadow minister for universities and skills, David Willetts, between 10am and 11am on April 8. Please send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.fefocus.co.uk for further details.