Department for Education written question – answered at on 21 March 2024.

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Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Transport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking to ensure that (a) young people and (b) adults have access to a range of high quality training pathways.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Minister of State (Education)

The government is committed to creating a world-leading skills system which is employer-focused, high-quality and fit for the future. The department’s reforms are strengthening higher and further education to help more people get good jobs and upskill and retrain throughout their lives. The department’s reforms are backed with an additional investment of £3.8 billion over the course of this Parliament to strengthen higher and further education. These reforms will help equip people with the education, training and skills that employers demand both in the public and private sector.

Apprenticeships are for people of any age and are crucial in driving growth and social mobility. To support growth, the department is increasing investment in apprenticeships to £2.7 billion by 2024/25, encouraging more employers across the country to recruit new apprentices.

The department has introduced employer-designed T Levels which are equipping thousands of young people with the skills, knowledge, and experience to access employment or further study in some of the most in-demand skills areas. 18 T Levels are now available, which are being delivered through over 250 providers across all regions of the country.

The department has invested £300 million to establish 21 Institutes of Technology across England to significantly increase the number of learners with higher level technical skills, offering an alternative route to high paid jobs. They bring education and industry together to deliver world class technical education and training in key STEM subjects aligned to the skills needs of the local economy they serve.

The department is delivering reforms to increase the profile, prestige, and uptake of higher technical education. Central to these reforms is the introduction of Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs), which are Level 4/5 qualifications approved against employer-developed standard and quality marked by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. This means students and employers can have the confidence that HTQs provide skills employers need. To date, 172 qualifications have been approved as HTQs across seven occupational routes and over 140 providers are approved to deliver HTQs.

The Adult Education Budget (AEB) of £1.34 billion this year funds skills provision for adults to help them gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship or further learning. This includes entitlements to free first qualifications at Level 2 and 3 and English, mathematics and digital qualifications for those adults who do not have them. Community Learning plays a vital role within AEB provision by supporting those furthest from the workplace. It is an important stepping stone for learners who are not ready for formal accredited learning, or who would benefit from learning in a more informal way.

In addition, the department has introduced the Free Courses for Jobs scheme, which enables eligible adults to gain a high value qualification for free and Skills Bootcamps. These Bootcamps are free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with an employer.

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