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Skills minister: ‘FE will be central to country’s success’

Further Education will be central to Britain’s success as the economy picks up, Skills Minister Kevin Brennan told delegates today at a landmark joint conference between the Association of Learning Providers (ALP) and Association of Colleges (AoC).

Mr Brennan praised colleges and training providers for “achieving the impossible” over the years by beating expectations with whatever was thrown at the sector.

However, with severe budget constraints on the horizon, he warned of major changes to come as the Government seeks to “find more efficient ways of delivering learning”.

He said: “It’s going to be a period of real change and challenge for the sector … but one where I think that FE is going to be central to the success of the country in years to come as the success of the economy adds to the strength of our recovery.”

Graham Hoyle, ALP’s chief executive, welcomed placing FE and skills at the heart of the UK’s recovery plan, but questioned the Government’s commitment to the sector when it came to funding.

“We know we’re in a financially difficult situation, but we are facing a pretty massive cutback of £340 million in the very near future within the system, which is a very high proportion of the Government cutbacks, and there’s more to come as well so I do think there is a real issue there.” said Mr Hoyle.

Although ALP and AoC have been working closely together over the last 12 months, today was the most visible indication of how the two massive organisations are helping to tackle shared objectives.

AoC’s chief executive, Martin Doel, commented: “We’ve been [working with ALP] for a year, and I think to good effect in aligning ourselves where it’s sensible to do so, recognising the way there are differences between us, and in having a clear dialogue actually uniting where that’s useful to do it on behalf of colleges and providers.”

Jason Rainbow

(Pictured: Martin Doel, AoC chief executive)

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