Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Business and learners to benefit from stronger, more flexible FE sector

Business and learners to benefit from stronger, more flexible FE sector

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 01 December 2011

Key reforms to Further Education will see businesses helping to develop the courses that best meet their needs for growth, increased education exports and promotion of excellence in teaching as announced today by Skills Minister John Hayes.

Measures outlined in New Challenges, New Chances will give employers the power to support the design and delivery of new courses, helping create greater confidence in qualifications and equip learners with the skills they need.

It will also actively support the sector, promoting excellence in teaching and developing a package of education products aimed at global opportunities in emerging economies.

The Skills Minister also confirmed £3.8 billion investment in the sector in 2012-13 and indicative funding for the following year at a stakeholder launch event for New Challenges, New Chances.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“Further education plays a critical role in extending opportunity, forging social cohesion and fostering enterprise. But we need to place more trust in the sector’s ability to understand and meet local communities skills needs.

“By giving more freedom to colleges to set courses based on local skills needs, and increasing businesses’ role in designing qualifications, we will empower students, colleges and employers to drive economic recovery.“

Ministers will further free colleges from central Government control, giving them the responsibility to provide high quality, flexible courses meeting the needs of their local areas.

Mr Hayes said:

“These measures will place students at the heart of the FE system, free colleges to meet local skills needs and give the sector the financial certainty it has so long desired.

“By giving students the power to make informed choices over which course is best for them and ensuring funds are prioritised, towards those most in need, we will build the skilled workforce businesses need to thrive and communities need to prosper.“

Today’s consultation response summarises a comprehensive vocational education and training programme including Government funding to support thousands of Higher Apprenticeships, enabling employers, colleges and universities to deliver the advanced skills most critical for growth.

Other measures outlined in New Challenges, New Chances include:

* Empowering students to make informed choices, by pulling together comparative data on training providers;
* The introduction of FE Loans from 2013 for those over 24 doing courses at Level 3 and above, ensuring continued access to advanced and higher level training through support to meet upfront costs and
* Granting colleges greater freedoms from central Government control, allowing them to set courses based on local employers needs.

The Skills for Life survey headline findings also published by BIS today highlight that one in ten adults (aged 16 to 65) lack the basics in both numeracy and literacy skills. To address this, the Government will boost English and Maths training, including requiring Apprenticeships providers to offer training to GCSE standard.

Notes to editors:

1. The Government’s response to the sector-wide consultation on FE reforms New Challenges, New Chances will announce:

* Provide data in one place for students to compare training providers, where possible down to the level of subject or course. By providing better access to quality information, we will empower students to make informed choices, enabling us to reduce the burden of Government-based quality assurance systems. At the same time, we will take swift action in relation to failing provision, providing intensive support and, if necessary, intervening to ensure that alternative and innovative delivery approaches are secured for the future.
* Business engagement in qualification design: In early 2012 we will consult employers on how they can be more fully engaged in qualification design, development and assessment, to create greater confidence in qualifications which will equip learners with the skills they need to succeed over time in the workplace. This will also cover the role of National Occupational Standards.
* Promote excellent teaching: A new independent commission on adult education and vocational learning will be established, it will bring together the industry to set best practice for teaching and explore how the best colleges and providers work with employers. We will also facilitate an independent review of professionalism in the FE and skills workforce.
* Global FE: Building on the growing international demand for technician and higher level vocational skills, and the legacy from WorldSkills 2011, we will continue to support the sector to take advantage of opportunities in the global market by actively promoting the Education UK Brand and creating a “system to system” model that with support from UKTI can package together a range of education products and services. This package will be targeted at emerging economies where we have identified the most significant UK educational export opportunities.
* We will ensure that young people aged 19 up to 24 will be able to access a full range of programmes including, English and maths skills, to enable them to continue into further learning or move into employment. FE Loans will support those aged over 24 doing courses at Level 3 and above who want to re-train or up-skill to get a job or progress onto higher education.
* A comprehensive Vocational Education and Training programme including Government funding to support thousands of Higher Apprenticeships, enabling employers, colleges and universities to deliver the advanced skills most critical for growth.
* Colleges will be given more freedoms and flexibilities: Colleges will be freed from central Government control and will have the responsibility to ensure the provision of high quality, flexible courses to meet the needs of their local areas. We have streamlined the sector, by scaling back the number of Government organisations and simplifying processes reducing time spent interacting with Government or on related activity.
* Overall investment in Adult FE and Skills will be £3.8 billion in the 2012-13 financial year.

2. For more information on the Government’s response to the New Challenges, New Chances consultation please see:

3. Today BIS also announces more than £18 million of funding to help deliver 19,000 new Higher Apprenticeships up to degree equivalent. For more information see:

4. The headline findings from the 2011 Skills for Life survey have been published today at: The survey has investigated literacy, numeracy and ICT skills amongst the adult population of England, aged 16 to 65 years old. The survey was commissioned by BIS as a follow-up to the initial Skills for Life survey, which was conducted in 2002/03.

5. The BIS Review of research and evaluation on improving adult literacy and numeracy skills report, which summarises research on Adult Literacy and Numeracy (ALN) from the last decade, is published today at:

6. BIS's online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See for more information.


BIS Press Office

Katie Kilgallen
Phone: 020 7215 1861

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