Skills_policyIn what David Willetts called "the most important announcement Conservatives have made on skills in a decade", David Cameron launched Building Skills, Transforming Lives: A training and apprenticeships revolution at the Ideas Space venue today.

John Hayes, Shadow Minister for Vocational Education, told the meeting that:

"by boosting funding to apprenticeships, paying employers directly, and establishing an apprenticeship bonus, we will unlock individual talent and spread opportunity".

Hayes emphasised to ConservativeHome that reversing the negative trends on skills education was vital for social mobility. In addition to the proposals to boost the number of real apprenticeship places that we noted yesterday, the policy paper – the seventh in the ‘Opportunity Agenda’ series – calls for…

More community learning to improve skills and employability:

  • A £100m NEETs fund (Not in Employment, Education or Training) specifically aimed at disengaged young people and a £100m Community Learning fund specifically aimed at adults looking to update or gain new skills – courses for would be available at local further education colleges.
  • £775m of support for apprentices of all ages, to be delivered through new Lifelong Learning Accounts. This extra support will be delivered by refocusing the current ‘Train to Gain’ scheme.
  • £5m to make it easier for small employers to come together and form Group Training Associations – a way of pooling their resources and talent to create and run their own apprenticeship schemes.
  • A £60 million Business Skills Development Fund to promote non-apprenticeship skills.

A revolution in careers advice:

  • £180 million to fund a careers adviser in every secondary school and college in the country, paid for by redirecting funds currently used on administration.
  • £100 million to create a new all-age careers advice service which will provide a community-based source of advice and guidance for people of all ages.
  • £5 million for a new web-based skills matching service, revolutionising people’s ability to access information on jobs, training and apprenticeships.

Supply-side reform to set further education free:

  • Removing bureaucracy and unnecessary inspection audits from FE colleges and creating a streamlined funding model where Government money for training follows the learner. New providers will be allowed to enter the FE sector and compete to attract more people into learning and skills programmes.
  • Trimming unnecessary inspection audits and funding bureaucracy from FE colleges, including many of the functions currently carried out by the highly bureaucratic Learning and Skills Council. Funding will be administered through a slimmed-down Further Education Funding Council for England, and the industry-based Sector Skills Councils will accredit courses.

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