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New legislation to help transform opportunities for all

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The Skills and post-16 Education Bill will support vital reforms to post-16 education so more people can gain the skills needed to secure great jobs.

The Skills and post-16 Education Bill will be introduced in Parliament today (18 May), underpinning the government’s skills and training revolution.

The Bill comes as new figures show that further and technical education provision is already estimated to boost the economy by £26 billion. This sets the stage for a new outlook for post-16 education where every young adult has a range of opportunities open to them, removing the illusion that a degree is the only path to a good career.

The reforms outlined in the Bill will help to create more routes into skilled employment in sectors the economy needs such as engineering, digital, clean energy and manufacturing, so more people can secure well-paid jobs in their local areas, levelling up the nation and supporting communities to thrive.

A range of policies are already in place to deliver the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, as set out by the Prime Minister last year. Today, a new fund has been launched to future proof post-16 provision with a £83 million Post-16 Capacity fund.

Providers are invited to bid for a share of the fund, which will support projects to create more space for areas where there is due to be a demographic increase in 16-19 year olds in the 2022/23 academic year. This could include building more classroom space or technical teaching facilities, so providers can continue to offer places to every young person who needs one.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“Talent is everywhere in our country and the Skills and post-16 Education Bill marks a significant milestone in our journey to transform the skills, training and post-16 education landscape and level up opportunities across the country.

“This legislation will be vital so we can make sure everyone can gain the skills they need to get a great job locally and businesses have access to the qualified employees they need to thrive.

“We’re also investing £83 million to create more classrooms and high-quality teaching facilities, to ensure that colleges can keep up with demand and offer a training place for all 16-19 year olds that want one.”

The key measures introduced in today’s Bill are:

  • Embedding employers in the heart of the skills system, by making it a legal requirement that employers and colleges collaborate to develop skills plans so that the training on offer meets the need of local areas, and so people no longer have to leave their home-towns to find great jobs.
  • Supporting the transformation of the current student loans system which will give every adult access to a flexible loan for higher-level education and training at university or college, useable at any point in their lives.
  • Introducing new powers to intervene when colleges are failing to deliver good outcomes for the communities they serve, and to direct structural change where needed to ensure colleges improve.

Many of the skills that employers are demanding require intermediate or Higher Technical Qualifications – but only four per cent of young people achieve a qualification at higher technical level by the age of 25 compared to the 33 per cent who get a degree or above. Evidence also shows these qualifications can lead to jobs with higher wages than degrees.

The measures in today’s Bill will bring greater parity between further and higher education, and help to deliver the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, ensuring everyone is given the chance to gain the skills they need, when they need them, as set out earlier this year in the Skills for Jobs White Paper.

New analysis by the government demonstrates the importance of further and technical education to the country’s economic recovery, setting the stage for the latest reforms. An estimated £26 billion is expected to be generated from the training started by adults in further education in 2018/19 over their working lives.

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