The Chancellor has listened to calls from the Association of Colleges (AoC) in the run-up to the Budget for major new investment in the technical skills of young people and adults as the country faces up to the challenges of Brexit. Over the next few years there will be an injection of £500 million per year in supporting young people to learn the technical skills they need to be successful in work. There is also welcome support, in the form of maintenance loans, for adults wanting to re-train and a pilot scheme to test new approaches to lifelong learning.
In response David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said:
“We are delighted that the Chancellor has recognised what the Association of Colleges (AoC) has been saying about the need to invest more in technical education for both young people and adults. For too long, technical skills and education have been overlooked when investment in education is being considered; this announcement will make a significant and positive difference.
“This investment is a vote of confidence in colleges that are ready to work with employers to co-design the new routes, deliver the 900 hours per year and help more young people make a smooth and successful transition to work and to higher level learning. This signals a step-change in thinking, backed by investment in technical education for young people which will put us on a par with our international competitors.
“We know that many young people become motivated by experiencing the world of work, so the funding to support work placements is critical to the success of this investment. We will be working hard with our partners to secure the 180,000 work placements of one to three months which are needed to ensure that technical education is truly occupation focused.
“The Chancellor is right to highlight the need to improve productivity, address regional inequalities and help adults re-train and learn new skills. The extension of maintenance loans to adults on pre-degree part-time skills courses is essential to widen access and we look forward to helping the Government design and deliver the pilots for lifelong learning.
“Post-Brexit Britain will need more self-sufficiency in developing skills and people will need the confidence, support and opportunities to adapt and change over 50+ year careers. This announcement is a good down-payment to help develop a new and better system over the next decade. We will be working with the Government to help design that system and implement the changes needed.”