The Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, Bill Rammell MP, has announced a new plan to change the planning and funding of the Further Education (FE) sector.

It is hoped that the changes will see thousands more people coming into further training and education within the FE sector, and will be fully outlined in the document to be published later today by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). It follows on from the initiatives previously outlined by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the LSC as seen in the 14-19 and Skills White Papers.

Increased Investment

The changes will affect a number of areas of the sector. One emphasis will be to increase provision for 16-19 year olds "“ an 11% rise in funding to 2007/08 will enable an extra 46,000 young people to learn in FE colleges and schools by 2007/08 compared with this year. It will also seek to maintain the numbers of young people in apprenticeships while increasing the numbers completing their apprenticeships.

In line with the Government's commitment to ensuring that the population as a whole has a minimum level 2 skills level, the new funding will aim to provide free tuition for adults most in need of skills and qualifications to help them into long term employment - including those in need of basic literacy and numeracy skills and those studying for a first level 2 qualification (equivalent to five GCSEs A* - C). Community projects are also recognised, with the maintaining of the value of funding for personal and community development learning and £210 million set aside from 2006/07.

One of the main issues facing the UK today is the skills gap encountered by employers, and the Government face the challenge of helping people to train for the workplace as well. With this in mind, they will be rolling out the National Employer Training programme across the country by August 2006 "“ which will enable colleges to grow their business with employers, increasing the involvement of employers in education and training.

Bill Rammell Welcomes Reform in Planning

At the launch, Bill Rammell will touch on a number of topics in his speech. He is expected to say: "The growth of the FE sector has been one of this country's great success stories. Unprecedented levels of investment since 1997"“ up by 2.5billion or 48 per cent in real terms "“ have seen a rise in student numbers of more than 800,000, a tripling of the number of young people in apprenticeships, provision of improved basic skills for more than a million adults and a higher proportion of students completing their course successfully.

"The Spending Review of 2004 delivered a £1billion increase in funding for the learning and skills sector as a whole over 2004-05 and this will help us to drive forward improved standards in FE." He will draw attention to the rising costs of meeting rising expectations: "But the huge successes we have seen, while welcome, have contributed to the rising costs and we have developed this strategy with a view to rebalancing spending on our priority areas."

He is looking forward to the future with the new initiative: "We believe that this new package will help us to create an FE sector which is the engine of a successful, dynamic economy and the means by which hundreds of thousands of people will be able to improve their lives."

Jethro Marsh

What will the funding move mean? Tell us your thoughts in the FE Blog


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