Tom Bewick (ToBe):
Some people think the furlough scheme is being cut off too early. How will the Lifetime Skills Guarantee help with the transition from furlough?
Boris Johnson (BoJo): The first thing I would say is our support for business has reached, and continues to reach, millions of firms. The Job Support Scheme is designed to protect jobs in businesses facing lower demand over the winter due to COVID, and the Jobs Retention Bonus will incentivise employers to retain furloughed employees.
And, of course, these are just two forms of support on offer to employers during this difficult period. This is why our Lifetime Skills Guarantee is so important, as this will help people train and retrain – at any stage in their lives – and enable us not just to come through this crisis, but to come back stronger, and build back better.
How will the Lifetime Skills Guarantee help meet the 3 million apprenticeship target enshrined in primary legislation?
BoJo: As I set out in my speech last week, you can’t acquire skills in the classroom alone. You need to learn on the job, and not just the theoretical understanding.
That’s why I announced last week that we’ll be expanding apprenticeships, reforming the system so that unspent funds can be used more easily to support apprenticeships not just in big companies, but in the SMEs where there is so much potential for job creation.
And I also said that I want more of these apprenticeships to be portable – so you can take them from company to company, and so apprentices can complete their training even if they move roles – as well as making apprenticeship programmes work better for employers.
With firms such as Balfour Beatty continuing their support, and pledging as they did yesterday to increase the number of apprentices they hire, I am confident young people will continue to see apprenticeships as a brilliant way to get ahead and get the skills our economy needs to grow after coronavirus.
How does the Lifetime Skills Guarantee relate to the Apprenticeship Guarantee that you mentioned in early June?
BoJo: As we recover from Covid, we are going to substantially increase the number of apprenticeships – with the Chancellor’s support package providing a range of support for young people, including incentives for employers to take on apprentices, funding for traineeships, Kick Start placements and funding options for people to stay on at colleges.
This is because we know there is a risk that some young people who would usually have entered the labour market this year might find themselves at risk of becoming neither in employment, in education of training.
The Lifetime Skills Guarantee I recently announced is about providing opportunity over the long term, and to help support more adult to progress and get the skills we know employers value, and that will help our economy to build back better from the pandemic.
Will your government implement the recommendations of the Independent Panel of Post-18 Education (The Augar Review) in full?
BoJo: Well, we have already responded to one of Phillip Augar’s recommendations. Last week, we accepted the recommendation that Ofsted become the single body responsible for the inspection of apprenticeship training provision. This will ensure there is a consistent approach to inspecting the quality of training provision, regardless of the provider or the level of the apprenticeship.
And my commitment last week to a Lifetime Skills Guarantee and lifelong learning loans also go some way towards answering the challenges set out by the review. But Philip Augar obviously put forward a huge number of detailed recommendations, and we will be setting out more detail around our response at the Spending Review.
According to the IFS, investment in FE colleges increased by 76 percent between 2000 and 2010. What percentage increase in resources for FE is your government committed to over the course of this Parliament?
BoJo: We have already announced a significant real terms increase in funding for 16 to 19 year olds in 2020-21 to make sure we can continue to develop world class education and training, as well as £1.5bn to upgrade college buildings and facilities.
But I recognise there is more to do and that’s why we are today launching the competition backed by £120m to create more Institutes of Technologies so we can continue to equip more young people and adults with the skills and knowledge in key STEM subjects they need to succeed.
We will soon publish our FE reform White paper, which will outline plans to build a high-quality FE system that will provide the skills that individuals, employers and the economy need to grow and thrive.
£120 million to secure the next wave of Institutes of Technologies
In an exclusive announcement for FE News, Boris was able to tell us:
“Today [8 Oct] we are launching a competition backed by £120 million to secure the next wave of Institutes of Technologies.
“IoTs are unique collaborations between further education colleges, universities and business. They will be the pinnacle of technical training; offering employer led higher technical STEM education and training (mainly at Levels 4 and 5) in key sectors such as digital, construction, advanced manufacturing and engineering.
“Twelve IoTs are being established with many already up and running in areas including the South West, Midlands, Yorkshire, the North East, and London. This new wave will ensure we can establish a further 8 – bringing the total to 20 – and meaning every area of the country has access to one, allowing everyone the chance to gain the skills they and the economy need, and help to level up opportunity.”
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