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Skills Bill receives Royal Assent: AoC response

28 April 2022

Association of Colleges, the national voice for England's college sector, has responded to the Skills Bill receiving Royal Assent and becoming the Skills and Post-16 Education Act.

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges said:

“Royal Assent for the Skills Bill being marks a significant moment in the development of skills policy and planning. We worked hard to encourage DfE that changes in policy were necessary so we welcomed the Bill because it acknowledged and reinforced vital role that further and technical education has in helping people get skills for good jobs now and in the future. We’ve been encouraged by the level of engagement MPs and Peers have had with the Bill as its progressed through Parliament, and it was great to work with them to shift the Government’s thinking on some of the key issues and to get some concessions in the legislation.

“When it was published, we said that the Bill didn’t go far enough to meet the needs of learners, employers and communities, and we think that’s still the case. We would have liked to have seen the Lifetime Skills Guarantee on the face of the Bill, the role of colleges as co-constructors of LSIPs formalised, and a commitment to look at the rules around Universal Credit conditionality to ensure more people are able to access the training they need to secure long-term, meaningful employment. And of course, none of these laudable ambitions will be possible if colleges are not funded properly to play the role envisaged for them by the Government.

“But despite its shortcomings, it’s clear that colleges are in a better position now than they have been in many years. Throughout the many debates on the Bill in Parliament over the past year, the vital role colleges play in boosting productivity, strengthening communities, and supporting individuals has been front and centre. Colleges are key to delivering on a number of Government agendas, including in green and digital skills, and on levelling-up, and I know that college leaders across the country are now ready to play their part to help ensure that the reforms are a success.“