What does the new Budget mean for the future of Technical Education?

Last month we put together our Budget wish list for technical education. Following this week’s Budget announcements, we’ve rounded up the key points for different parts of the sector and our thoughts on how these will affect the sector going forward.

Apprenticeships

The government will make up to £450 million available “to enable levy paying employers to transfer up to 25% of their funds to pay for apprenticeship training in their supply chains”, from April 2019. This is core investment to the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) to support a measure already announced at the conservative party conference. We hope that this will increase take-up – however in our opinion it’s the funding bands for Standards and the requirement for 20% off-the-job that will have a greater impact on apprenticeship numbers.

The government will provide up to £240 million, to halve the co-investment rate for apprenticeship training to 5% - this means that for smaller firms, the government is essentially halving what they have to contribute from 10% to 5% and funding the other 95%. We’re already seeing uncertainty from the Treasury as to when this will be introduced. This may affect uptake by non-levy paying employers as they wait for the lower co-investment rate to start.

The government will also provide up to £5 million to the IfA and National Apprenticeship Service in 2019-20, used “to identify gaps in the training provider market and increase the number of employer-designed apprenticeship standards available to employers”. All new apprentices will then start on these new courses from September 2020.

National Retraining Scheme

The Budget confirmed the £100 million allocated for the first phase of the National Retraining Scheme (NRS), which will include “a new careers guidance service with expert advice to help people identify work opportunities in their area, and state-of-the-art courses combining online learning with traditional classroom teaching to develop key transferable skills”.

This is welcome news as the NRS is something we’ve long championed in order to cater for our ageing workforce and to close skills gaps.

T Levels

The Chancellor confirmed the £38 million of capital funding to support implementation of the first three T levels in 2020 across 52 providers. This was first announced by Education Secretary Damian Hinds earlier this month at the Conservative Party Conference.

Skills pilots

The Chancellor also announced a series of skills pilots backed with £20 million of Government funding including: 

  • A £3 million pilot to help employers in Greater Manchester and surrounding areas to address local digital skills gaps through short training courses.
  • A £10 million pilot in Greater Manchester, working with the Federation of Small Businesses, to test what forms of government support are most effective in increasing training levels for the self-employed.
  • £7 million match funding alongside employers to provide on-the-job training to young people not currently in employment, education or training in Greater Manchester, and to move them into sustainable career paths with employers.

This is fantastic news and we hope to see this duplicated across all Mayoral Combined Authorities.

Schools funding

Schools will get £400 million in extra capital funding this year – an average of £10,000 per primary school or £50,000 per secondary school for equipment and facilities. As was widely covered in the media, this was quite poorly pitched to the sector, as this is capital investment it cannot be used to support curriculum or teacher recruitment. The Chancellor also announced a new £10 million trial to retain maths and physics teachers.

In conclusion, there are some positives that have come out of this recent budget but overall it seems like a missed opportunity for the Chancellor to show that he has a plan to invest in our sector for the skills we’ll need as we face the challenges of leaving the European Union. 

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