Sector Response to Tory Party Conference announcements from Gavin Williamson and Thérèse Coffey

Overtaking Germany in the opportunities offered to students studying technical routes by 2029 - Sector Response to Tory Party Conference announcements from Gavin Williamson and Thérèse Coffey

This week is the Conversative Party conference, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced £120M for eight new Institute's of Technology and that every major city should have at least one IoT.

Gavin Williamson also announced a new Skills and Productivity Group. 

Work and Pensions Secretary Dr Thérèse Coffey, announced two new programmes to help disadvantaged young people into work and to use mobile technology to help jobseekers into higher paid jobs.

The two new programmes total £4 Million, this includes a £2.8m investment in jobs 'apps' to recommend the best jobs and skills training to job seekers and people looking to find better. 

Up to £1.2 million will be invested in Manchester and the West Midlands, dedicating extra time and resources to young people facing the biggest hurdles to getting a job, like care-leavers and young offenders.

Work and Pensions Secretary Dr Thérèse Coffey said:

I want to give everyone the best start in life, and every chance to get not just a job, but find that dream job. 

That is why we will provide extra help for disadvantaged young people and use the latest technology to help people climb the career ladder.

We’ve seen 3.7 million more people in work since 2010 and wages outpacing inflation for a year and a half now, but I want to ensure we’re always looking at new ways to help anyone no matter the barriers they face into a good job.

Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, yesterday (30 Sept) announced a series of measures to help make sure the country can continue to build the skilled workforce it needs for the future and improve productivity. This includes an ambition to boost further education over the next decade with the aim of overtaking Germany in the opportunities offered to students studying technical routes by 2029.

The government recently announced an additional £400 million for sixth forms and colleges for 2020-2021 - the single biggest annual uplift since 2010. The new measures will build on this significant investment and support the government’s ongoing work to transform technical education including through the introduction of new T Level qualifications from next year, new Institutes of Technology and the creation of more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities.

Second wave of Institutes of Technology planned

The government will provide up to £120 million of additional funding to enable every region in England to establish a high-quality Institute of Technology.

Institutes of Technology are unique collaborations between further education colleges, universities, and employers – including Nissan and Microsoft – offering higher technical education and training mainly at Levels 4 and 5 (above A levels and T Levels but below degree level) in key sectors such as digital, construction, advanced manufacturing and engineering.

Twelve Institutes are already being established across the country – backed by £170 million of government investment – to provide employers with the skilled workforce they need to drive growth and productivity across the country and get more people into rewarding jobs.

To build on this, the government will launch a second competition with the aim of establishing up to 8 more Institutes in areas of the country that do not currently have access to one.

New Skills and Productivity Board

A new Skills and Productivity Board will also be established to provide the government with expert advice on how to ensure the courses and qualifications on offer to students are high-quality, are aligned to the skills that employers need for the future and will help increase productivity.

More specialist maths schools

To continue driving up standards and support more disadvantaged young people aged 16-19 to study maths, Mr Williamson also committed to opening a network of 11 Maths Free Schools across every region of the country – and confirmed that a new Maths Free School will open in the North East through a partnership between Durham University and Durham Sixth Form College.

Maths Schools offer A levels in Maths, Further Maths and Physics in partnership with top universities – helping young people, whatever their background, to fulfil their potential by learning from the best mathematicians.

These schools will build on the successes of the Maths Schools run by the University of Exeter, in partnership with Exeter College, and King’s College London – in 2018, 99% of King’s mathematics students achieved an A or A* in A Level mathematics, for Exeter this was 85%.

STEM subjects – which include maths – are some of the most in-demand skillsets in the labour market. Maths is already the post popular subject at A Level, with almost 25% of students choosing to study it.

So how has the sector responded to the announcements at the Conservative Party Conference?

Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, responded to the Education Secretary’s speech at Conservative Party Conference:

“Investment in education and skills is the foundation stone of a prosperous economy and the most important factor in closing regional divides.

“The CBI has been calling for investment and reform of our skills system to be put centre stage. The Education Secretary is right to make colleges and further education a top priority.

“Today’s announcement, coming hot on the heels of further funding announced in the Spending Review, shows the Government is rising to the challenge.”

On the £120 million additional investment for up to eight new Institutes of Technology, Matthew said:

"Expanding high-quality technical education and training is a top priority for employers who will welcome this extra investment. By bringing firms, colleges and higher education together, these Institutes can open the door to great careers or further training.”

On the establishment of a new Skills and Productivity group, Matthew said:

“Business demand and expectation levels for skills is continuing to change. In a fast-moving economy, it’s critical that the Government hears direct from business the skills needed to compete and grow, and then adapts course content to meet these needs.”

On the introduction of specialist 16-19 maths schools in every region, Matthew said:

“More than four in five businesses rank developing STEM skills amongst their top three priorities for action, so a specialist maths schools in every region will help to plug this gap.”

Sam Parrett OBE Sept19 100x100Sam Parrett CEO, London & South East Education Group, said:

"The Secretary of State’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference today has reinforced the feeling of recent goodwill towards the FE sector.

"Full of dynamic language like ‘super-charging’, ‘striving’, ‘progressing’ and ‘transforming’, the Minister sounded genuinely passionate about improving technical education. It’s clear to all of us in the FE sector that offering high quality vocational training is just as important as higher education routes – but it’s not often you hear this being said so publicly by an Education Secretary.

"It is pleasing to hear a Minister talking about wider technical education, beyond T Levels and apprenticeships: from the elementary to the elite – we need stretching technical education at every level.This is absolutely the case, as is the need to work more collectively with other colleges, universities and employers.

"Mr Williamson also set out his plans to create a Skills and Productivity Board. This is exactly the model we have already implemented here at London South East College - engaging employers and labour market experts to advise on the skills and qualifications young people need in order for them to progress into successful careers. We are currently working with London Biggin Hill Airport to develop a cutting edge Aerospace and Technology College – a prime example of an FE College partnering with business to address skills needs.

"Coming so soon after the spending review, it’s beginning to feel like the tide really is turning for FE and skills. We are seeing genuine recognition from Government that a ‘revolution in technical education’ is needed if we are to effectively compete with the rest of the world. As a sector, we must step up to the challenge and make the most of the many opportunities that are seemingly coming our way."

KevinCourtney100x100Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“In his speech to Conservative Party Conference, Gavin Williamson lauded the achievements of nursery schools. He is right, but what these schools need is an announcement about their future funding. There are 392 nursery schools that receive a third of their income through the Maintained Nursery School Grant. The grant runs out in August 2020, and without the grant these schools will be forced to close. Parents, teachers and head teachers have been campaigning to save these schools which make such a contribution to social mobility. They are the highest rated schools in the country with 98% of them judged to be good or outstanding by Ofsted. Gavin Williamson must get the Treasury to find the money to save the maintained nursery sector. Parents and teachers need the reassurance that these schools will be able to stay open next year.

“The ambition for Britain to offer better technical education than Germany in ten years’ time will come to nothing if more funding is not found. Colleges and school sixth forms have suffered the worst cuts of any part of the education system over the last nine years. Even after the announcement of an additional £400m in April 2020, they still have £1.1bn less in real terms than in 2010.

“So, yet again announcements on education which are not backed up with the necessary funding to see their implementation or continued existence. Very disappointing.”

david hughes 100 x100David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC) commented:

“It is very encouraging to the see the Secretary of State today back up his strong support for colleges with more investment. His speech reinforces the Prime Minister and Chancellor’s commitment to technical and vocational education. The second funding announcement in as many months shows the tide, rightly, is changing.

 "He is right to highlight that those not going to university should be afforded equal opportunities to succeed. This investment, alongside the £400m announced earlier this month are a great start to achieving that. More will be needed though to make this a reality. I share the Secretary of State’s desire to have a post-16 education system fit for the future that is coherent, joined up and providing the opportunities and choices for those that have been neglected for far too long. In fact, that desire seems now to be shared across the political spectrum, as it should be. Education, skills and opportunities should be above politics.

"Colleges have the knowledge, teaching staff and initiative to deliver the ‘revolution in technical education’ Mr Williamson described so passionately. Prioritising them on the political, economic and social agenda will benefit not only young people and adults, but communities, businesses and economic prosperity all over the country.”

Layla Moran100x100Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary Layla Moran MP said:

“Gavin Williamson’s new target is big on ambition for technical education, but scant on the detail of how we get there.

“The Conservatives have left our colleges underfunded and unloved. The money announced in the Spending Round was over £1 billion short of what is needed to get per-student funding back up to 2010 levels in real terms. Meanwhile, students are being taught fewer subjects for fewer hours and class sizes are going up.

“Liberal Democrats will invest in every young person, no matter how and where they study. Our colleges should have the same funding levels, support and status as our secondary schools.

“If Gavin Williamson wants a revolution in technical education, he could start by making sure that colleges can budget for the basics.”

Stephen Evans Dec 2018 100x100Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of Learning and Work Institute, said:

"I’m always pleased to see a focus on and investment in Further Education and learning, as well as on support for people to find work and progress in their careers. Today’s announcements build on the extra investment in Further Education for young people in the Spending Review and so are welcome.

"However, they only begin to scratch the surface of the investment and change needed. Our analysis earlier this year showed that improvements in skills have stalled meaning we’re on track to fall further down the international league tables by 2030. We need to reverse cuts in funding for lifelong learning and set out a clear strategy for improving participation in learning by adults and young people. Alongside this, our Youth Commission has shown that too many young people miss out on support to find work, improve their skills and take the next step on the career ladder. Again, we need strategic investment and systemic change to make a real difference."

MarkDawe 100x100Mark Dawe, Chief Executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), said:

‘We take real encouragement from the Secretary of State wanting to take a good look at the productivity gains from skills programmes . We’re confident that his group of economists will give him the information he needs about the value of apprenticeships in this respect and why more investment in SME apprenticeships is necessary.’

Lisa Randall, RSM’s head of education, said:

"This is great news for the sector, students and employers alike. With an ambitious global growth strategy for the UK, engaging employers with education providers not only enhances the students’ experience but aligns education with employer need to shape skills and ultimately the UK’s future workforce. Funding at this rate of uplift has been long awaited and provides another catalyst and opportunity for education to highlight the value of working in partnerships on emerging skills in the workplace."

Dr. Maria Neophytou, Director of Public Affairs at Impetus said about the Thérèse Coffey announcements:

“Impetus welcomes today’s announcement of extra job support to help young people into employment in Manchester and the West Midlands. Yes we have high employment at the moment, but that makes it all the more important to “fix the roof while the sun shines.”   There are still too many young people who are being locked out of the labour market for too long.

"Our report today reveals the extent of the ‘NEET trap’ showing that, of the young people who are Not in Employment, Education or Training for 3 months or more, 75% of that group are NEET for a year or more. Meaning that if a young person is 3 months NEET, the likelihood is they stay NEET.

"It is vital that the government’s efforts provide a lifeline to these young people right across the country through prevention, early intervention and targeted intensive support. We look forward to working with the government to build on what works to ensure that all young people have a more positive start to their working lives.”

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