Monday 06-03-2017 - 17:13
Phillip Hammond is set to announce funding for the implementation of the biggest shake-up of post-16 education in 70 years this week, in an effort to plug the UKs post-Brexit skills gap.
In his spring budget on Wednesday (8 March), the Chancellor is expected to reveal plans including; an increase in training to 900 hours a year for 16-19-year-olds and extending maintenance loans to students on level 4-6 technical courses.
The £500m will provide long-term investment, as the government begins to implement its previously announced '15 routes' through further education.
NUS has been campaigning for more funding for further education. While we welcome the extra investment in a sector which has felt the full force of government cuts in recent years, we're mindful that the motivation for these changes come from the government's stark realisation that they need to invest more in technical education once article 50 is triggered and we begin to lose a skilled international workforce.
Shakira Martin, NUS Vice President (Further Education), said: “The Chancellor’s announcement of extra funding of up to £500 million a year for college based technical training is overdue but enormously welcome. Between 2010 and 2015 the Association of Colleges estimated that college funding fell by 27 per cent and the sector simply could not have taken any further cuts. This funding will by no means solve all the difficulties the further education sector is faced with, but it is certainly a refreshing change.
“The promise of sustained funding over a number of years should mean that the 15 technical education routes within the Post-16 Skills Plan, which were announced last year, will be much better embedded than previous government reforms to further education. While NUS’ members have reservations about elements of the Skills Plan which we will continue to lobby on, this funding announcement is an important step in the right direction.”
Shakira also highlighted the need for extra funding to ease the strain on teachers to improve quality: “Other priorities should include improving college pastoral and extracurricular support and services and providing direct funding to disadvantaged learners. By guaranteeing that college learners will be represented on the board of the Institute of Apprentices and Technical Education will ensure that this funding will be spent where learners need it the most.”
We are expected to learn more details about the government’s plans for technical education during the government’s spring Budget announcement on Wednesday 8 March.