AELP’s Response to the Autumn Statement
The Chancellor is right that a world-class education system can support a thriving economy, however, there was little in his Autumn Statement to help the FE sector achieve this.
AELP welcomes the £50m funding for engineering apprenticeships, though as always the detail is thin at this point. We are also pleased to see the all-ages, all-levels aspect of the apprenticeship system maintained, despite speculation that the government was considering restrictions on levels 6 and 7 apprenticeships. It is important for the apprenticeships brand that pathways remain open and progression between levels remains possible.
All that said, the sector needs more ambitious investment in skills if it is to continue supporting the economy effectively. Reductions in inflation are welcome, and will help slow down the rise in the costs of provision, but many of those rising costs are now baked in and providers will continue to struggle, and that is reflected in an unfortunate reduction in employer choice as some programmes are no longer viable for providers to be able to offer.
The Chancellor also continued one of his themes of wanting to get people back into work. He announced a range of welfare reforms and reiterated the government’s plans for the Advanced British Standard. However, it is hard to escape the sense that the adult further education sector has been left out. Our sector plays a huge role in helping people transition from long-term unemployment to quality work by giving them the skills employers need.
During his speech Jeremy Hunt reiterated the government’s plans for the Advanced British Standard and stressed the 9 million adults who lack basic literacy and numeracy skills, yet no new announcement was made to help these adults, beyond the already announced functional skills funding increases.
If the Government is serious about growth it needs to be serious about Skills as AELP have outlined in our vision for the sector Skills Means Growth and unfortunately this autumn statement was lacking in this regard.