To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of students enrolled at further education colleges.
Further education (FE) colleges are vital to the post-16 education sector and we are taking forward an exciting and ambitious reform programme to level up the FE sector, ensuring it becomes a powerhouse that supplies the skills employers need, and equips young people and adults with the skills they need to have productive and fulfilling careers.
Under Raising the Participation Age, all young people in England are required to continue in education or training until their 18th birthday and many will undertake that at FE colleges. Local authorities have duties to track young people in their area and support those not in education, employment or training (NEET) in finding a suitable way to participate, including through referring to FE provision.
FE colleges are key to the delivery of T Levels. T Levels represent the biggest reform of post-16 education since A levels were first introduced 70 years ago and will give 16-19 year olds a genuine, high quality alternative to the academic route.
As part of the new £2.5 million National Skills Fund to help adults learn valuable skills and prepare for the economy of the future, we will be fully funding adults to gain their first Level 3 qualifications. We will target this Level 3 entitlement on areas with high economic value and the strongest alignment with government priorities, to ensure the best possible returns for individuals, employers and the nation. FE colleges will be key to delivery of this provision.
As part of my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s, Plan for Jobs announced in July, we are investing £101 million in a brand new offer to give 18 and 19 year old school and college leavers the opportunity to study high value Level 2 and 3 courses when there are no employment opportunities available to them.
We have reformed and improved careers advice in schools, which are now under a duty to allow providers of apprenticeships and technical education into schools to help pupils understand about the options available to them.