Prime Minister's 'levelling up' speech and skills packages - AoC responds

15 Jul 2021

Responding to the Prime Minister's speech on his plans for 'levelling up' the country and the skills announcements including the Skills Accelerator, Skills Bootcamps expansion, National Skills Fund Consultation and Funding and Accountability Consultation, Deputy Chief Executive of AoC, Julian Gravatt said:

“We have long called for colleges to get the recognition they deserve for their role in uplifting people and communities, so we welcome the positive comments from the Prime Minister today about the role of education in giving opportunities to people and communities but more specifically we are pleased that DfE is getting on with the FE white paper implementation.

DfE announced the results of its Skills accelerator competition today. We know that there were lots of high quality bids but we are pleased that the 19 selected build on strong college partnerships and cover a good mix of urban, rural and coastal locations. They will work with selected Chambers of Commerce to develop the Local Skills Plan and college business centre models.

DfE has also published a funding and accountability consultation which develops the ideas in the FE white paper for a government approach which is less focused on processes and checking transactions and getting the best value from available funds for the adult learners, employers and communities involved in further education. DfE has worked with colleges and AoC on these plans which are a first step towards a more effective way of organising the system.

The third DfE announcement is a consultation on the National Skills Fund which is already being used by colleges to improve the skills of adult learners and via bootcamps where they have been selected in the recent tender. We welcome the opportunity to discuss some of the barriers to participation in learning – including current universal credit rules and qualification assessment regimes – but we will also encourage DfE and Treasury to keep a focus on how to make skills funding simple and easy to understand. The National Skills Fund is currently managed separately from other funding lines. It will be worth looking at how to integrate them.

The country faces big challenges in the next few years. Let’s hope the government matches its bold and ambitious plans with the investment to make up for a decade of neglect for this to be the turning point for opportunities that the government wants it to be.” 

 Further detail on the announcements can be found here.