Further education is key to ensuring our workforce is equipped with the skills our economy needs, and I very much support the excellent work of Boston College in our area.
The Government wants employers to take a leading role in establishing a post-16 skills system that is responsive to local economic priorities, financially resilient and able to offer high quality post-16 education and training. A series of area-based reviews is being carried out to establish how local areas can set up institutions that do this.
It makes sense for savings to be found by prioritising investment and I am glad that apprenticeships – which are essential to give young people the opportunity they need to secure a better future – is one area that is being protected. The introduction of a new apprenticeship levy will require large employers to invest in their own future so that the 3 million apprenticeships delivered during this Parliament will be well funded, high quality, and meet employers’ real needs.
The Government will make £360 million of efficiencies and savings from adult skills budget by 2019-20. However, it has signalled its commitment to the sector by protecting the Adult Education Budget and 16-19 funding in the recent Spending Review and through its strong support for apprenticeships and Advanced Learner Loans. In fact, by 2019-20, the total funding available to support 19+ skills participation will be £3.41bn, a cash terms increase of 40 per cent compared with 2015-16.
The Government also recently introduced the Technical and Further Education Bill to Parliament. Its reforms are designed to drive long term improvements in the sector and to ensure that all people, irrespective of their background, have an equal opportunity to fulfil their potential. I will certainly follow the progress of this Bill with interest.