The reforms follow the government’s productivity plan, published in July, which sets out an ambition for a technical and professional education system that ‘provides individuals with clear, high-quality routes to employment, and that supports the government’s overall fiscal and economic objectives’.
As well as making routes clearer for students, the reforms will support the upskilling and reskilling of the workforce, raising the life chances of adults as well as young people. The high-end technician skills gap in particular will be addressed through the reforms.
Currently, only 6.9% of 17-year-olds are doing apprenticeships and only 33% of apprenticeships are delivered by colleges – by engaging colleges much more with apprenticeship training these reforms will significantly raise this proportion.
The government is taking an evidence-based approach by learning from some of the best technical and professional education systems, including the Netherlands and Norway.
The government has also been working with businesses and local enterprise partnerships in preparation for the area-based reviews to reshape the further education sector, with a positive response. The reviews will bring together colleges, local enterprise partnerships and local authorities to redesign and restructure provision to align capacity with local economic priorities.
As well as leading to a stronger and more resilient post-16 provider base, this will lead to the development of a new network of prestigious institutes of technology and national colleges to deliver high-standard provision, and support progression to employment in the most econom