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The government has endorsed the parliamentary Select Committee’s report on Further Education, published two months ago, via a statement released this morning.

Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, Bill Rammell, released a full government response to the committee’s fourth report with a resounding approval of its findings.

He said: “I would like to thank the Committee for producing such a considered and thorough report. Further Education (FE) has an absolutely vital role to play in delivering the skills the nation needs for economic prosperity and social justice and the Government welcomes the Committee’s endorsement of its reform plans for the FE system to help it realise its full potential”.

Following the release of the report, the Select Committee invited the government to issue a response within two months of its publication. The report controversially assessed the current UK FE structure as being “beset by a lack of coherent strategic direction”, labelling skills funding and planning mechanisms as “incoherent, over-complex, burdensome”, and acting as a “barrier” to FE development.

Mr Rammell continued: “We believe these changes will deliver a clearer, more coherent system. It is important that we allow new and reformed organisations to “bed down”. However, we are keeping under active review the scope for further rationalisation, and we will be working closely with the independent Bureaucracy Reduction Group as it develops its action plans and fulfils its challenge role on behalf of the sector”.

“As a nation we face a massive skills challenge. By focusing more public funding on tackling the acute lack of basic skills in the workforce and on securing a minimum platform of broader employability skills for the lowest skilled we are making significant inroads to the challenge”.

“However, we know that we need to do more work to make sure that this is targeted more precisely on the specific skills and qualifications that will make the most difference to the employment and future prospects of individuals and the productivity and professionalism of businesses. We have asked employers, via their Sector Skills Councils (SSCs), to develop qualifications strategies for each industry sector and to identify the qualifications that are most relevant”.

“Government does not want to see learning that is valued lost. We do expect that where provision is in areas that are primarily the responsibility of employers, such as first aid, health and safety and food hygiene, then we would not expect to fund those courses from the public purse. Providers that can deliver that provision cost effectively will continue to do so with employers paying the market rate”.

“Similarly where learners value high quality learning and are prepared to pay more for courses then colleges can continue to provide provision on a full cost recovery basis. We are seeing evidence this is happening”.

Vijay Pattni.

Click here to view the Select Committee’s Fourth Report [Further Education]

Related FE News articles:

Commons Report Welcomed by LSC ““ 13/09/06

“Incoherent”, “Over-Complex”, “Burdensome” ““ FE Report ““ 12/09/06

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