Skills training for 16 to 19-year-olds set for £500m Government boost

Chancellor Philip Hammond is to announce reform of technical education to bring in '15 world-class routes' better suited to business needs. Photo: PA
Chancellor Philip Hammond is to announce reform of technical education to bring in '15 world-class routes' better suited to business needs. Photo: PA
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The Government will announced a £500 million-a-year boost to skills training for 16 to 19-year-olds in Wednesday's Budget.

Ministers will call the move the most significant shake-up in post-16 education since the introduction of A-levels 70 years ago.

Apprentice awards roundtable at The Star. Charles Ricketts, Bob Clifford, Rob Hollingworth, Haroldine Lockwood, Andrew Hartley, Zena Wardle, James Godsell and Lucinda White

Apprentice awards roundtable at The Star. Charles Ricketts, Bob Clifford, Rob Hollingworth, Haroldine Lockwood, Andrew Hartley, Zena Wardle, James Godsell and Lucinda White

A wide-ranging reform of technical education will see the current 13,000 separate qualifications replaced with "15 world-class routes" better suited to business needs.

The £500 million a year investment from 2019 is also aimed at boosting Britain's productivity levels, and will see the amount of training for 16 to 19-year-olds on technical routes increase by more than 50% to over 900 hours a year.

Students on higher technical education courses will also be eligible for maintenance loans under the reforms.

The Star and sister Johnston Press titles including the Doncaster Free Press and Mansfield Chad have this month launched an apprenticeship awards scheme, recognising the value of alternative routes to skilled jobs for young people.

Lord Sainsbury, who chaired a Government probe into reform of technical education last year, said: "The news that the Government is to commit significant investment to the development of technical education should be welcomed by everyone who cares about increasing national prosperity and improving social mobility.

"Targeted investment of this type makes economic sense - our international competitors recognised long ago that investing in technical education is essential to enhancing national productivity. But it is also essential if we are to equip people with the knowledge and skills they need to obtain rewarding and skilled employment in the future.

"The expert panel I chaired last year called for all young people following technical education programmes to have an entitlement to a high-quality work placement. We also called for increased levels of core funding to allow colleges to invest in their staff and facilities so that technical education in England could match the best in the world."

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: "For too long, technical skills and education have been overlooked when investment in education is being considered, this announcement will make a significant and positive difference.

"This investment is a vote of confidence in colleges who are ready to work with employers to co-design the new routes, deliver the 900 hours per year and help more young people make a smooth and successful transition to work and to higher level learning.

"This signals a step-change in thinking, backed by investment in technical education for young people which will put us on a par with our international competitors.

"Post-Brexit Britain will need more self-sufficiency in developing skills and people will need the confidence, support and opportunities to adapt and change over 50-plus year careers."

CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn said: "Businesses are delighted by the Government's announcements, which they and the CBI have long been calling for.

"Increasing the number of teaching hours for technical subjects is fundamental to delivering world-class training for our young people in every part of the UK.

"There has never been a more important time to address the UK's skills shortages. Investment in skills by employers and the Government, working together in partnership, are the key to giving young people the opportunities they need to succeed."

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