As the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill reached the report stage in the House of Lords, the first of two debates on amendents to the Bill were discussed on Tuesday 12 October.
Responding to the outcome of the first debate, Chief Executive of Association of Colleges, David Hughes said:
“Last night’s session in the House of Lords on the Skills Bill made clear the strong support from all sides to redress the long-standing neglect of lifelong learning, to build a new strategic relationship between colleges, other providers and employers and to create a post-16 education system that provides training and skills to more people.
Peers voted in favour of three significant amendments which would improve the Bill. These amendments, and more to be discussed next week came from all sides of the house. Peers rightly noted that Local Skills Improvement Plans must be co-developed with colleges, local government, elected mayors, employers and others. Passing amendment 11 was crucial to ensuring employer engagement is a proper two-way street.
Likewise, the successful amendments on taking more time before any qualifications are de-funded shows that the government must work with the college sector to create a new roll out plan ensure T levels are a success, whilst not inadvertently disadvantaging thousands of already disadvantaged students. The Government’s own impact assessment warns of the damage the proposals could have by leaving many young people with limited or no routes to progress into work or higher education.
There is still a long road ahead to ensure the Skills Bill has the impact on the communities and people it needs to reach most. I know the government will be reflecting closely, and I hope they will support the changes that have been raised. We look forward to continuing our work with government and parliamentarians in both houses through the next stages of the Bill.”
The amendements debated and voted on were:
193 – 186 (passed)
This amendment would provide for employer representative boards to develop local skills improvement plans in partnership with local authorities, including the Mayoral Combined Authorities, and local further education providers to ensure that they reflect the needs of learners, residents and employers. LSIPs must also consider social and economic development strategies in the local area and long-term national needs which may not apply to local employers.
The government’s own amendment to the bill passed without division. This included a new requirement for the development of local skills improvement plans (LSIPs) to consider climate change and other environmental goals.
155 - 150 (passed)
This amendment prevents IfATE from withdrawing approval of established level 3 courses including BTECs for four years to ensure that T levels are fully embedded and acceptable to students, employers and universities.
148 – 129 (passed)
‘No student will be deprived of the right to take two BTECs, AGQ or a Diploma or an extended Diploma.’
135 - 135 (failed)
‘Where a technical education qualification has had its approval withdrawn under subsection (2), funding may not be withdrawn by the Secretary of State without public consultation and the consent of the relevant employer representative bodies, as defined in the Skills and Post-16 Education Act 2021.’
Willetts – Blunkett – Watson – Garden
The second debate on the remaining amendments will take place on 18 October.