Transforming Further Education

A majority Conservative government will transform the further education system, levelling up across the entire country with a huge new rebuilding programme worth £1.8 billion.

For too long, the further education sector has lagged behind the higher education sector in terms of funding and status. Yet the need to equip our young people with the skills of the future is greater than ever.

 

A Conservative majority Government will end that unfairness and build a world class further education sector, by launching a huge new rebuilding programme which will ensure we are able to prepare young people for their futures.

 

This investment programme, will level up the system across the country, giving further education colleges the stable basis on which to provide brilliant training and education to transform the lives of millions of young people.

Background

At the Spending Review, the Chancellor announced £400 million for further education (FE).

This one-year investment was to train and teach more than a million 16 to 19 year olds the skills they need for well-paid jobs in the modern economy.

The further education college estate has a clear need of investment.

A quarter of the entire estate requires imminent significant repair, is inoperable or is at serious risk of breakdown. However, there is currently no dedicated fund for this.

There is no dedicated further education capital investment programme with the only funding source being from local LEPs and small pots of private finance.

Additional private investment has been severely limited by the poor financial health of the sector with many banks refusing to lend. This lack of targeted investment has resulted in poor and deteriorating buildings across the further education college estate.

The impending demographic increase in the 16-19 population is an additional challenge.

Some colleges will need to expand to accommodate these students.

Our solution

We will launch a huge further education college rebuilding programme.

We will invest £1.8 billion to make sure the entire further education college estate to good condition.

This huge investment programme will – over a five-year period – make sure the entire further education college estate is at least Category B (‘Good’) condition by refurbishing and redeveloping existing facilities and purchasing industry standard equipment.

We will match this with 21 per cent more from providers themselves. FE colleges will have to work up robust plans to make sure the money is spent wisely.

This investment will improve student attainment.

There is evidence that capital investment in FE buildings is linked to better student outcomes. Not only will it mean a safe and secure learning environment for all students but also more access to modern equipment to support the learning of engineering, robotics, healthcare and so much more. FE colleges are also essential infrastructure in the delivery of reforms that boost productivity such as apprenticeships.

Rebuilding the estate in this way will help to bring parity of esteem with the rest of the education system.

Better colleges will boost recruitment into the sector and retention of existing staff and a renewed focus and long-term commitment to capital investment will enhance the other activities of colleges.

This investment will drive further reform of the sector.

The Government will commit to producing an ambitious reform plan soon after the election, backed by this investment to improve student outcomes and boost social mobility. This will consider further structural reform of the sector, devolution and boosting recruitment and retention.

Conservative record

Reforming technical education so that young people develop the skills they need

Revolutionising technical education with £500 million for T Levels, so that our young people have access to world-class technical education.

From September 2020 T Levels will become one of the three main choices for students after GCSEs, suited to those who know what occupation they want to pursue, want to earn a wage and learn at the same time and are ready to enter the workforce.

Launching 12 Institutes of Technology, boosting young people’s skills and setting them on a path to a high skilled, high wage career.

These Institutes will be backed by £170 million, and offer young people a vocational alternative to universities with a focus on STEM subjects.

Creating eight further Institutes of Technology, so that every part of the country will have access to a high quality technical education.

We are providing a further £120 million to establish eight new Institutes of Technology, so that every region in England will have an Institute in it.

Delivering record numbers of high-quality apprenticeships so every person can benefit

Delivering over 3.8 million apprenticeship starts since 2010, giving people the skills they need for the workplace.

We created 2.4 million apprenticeships in the last Parliament – surpassing our target of 2 million apprenticeships by 2015. Since 2015 there have been almost 1.4 million apprenticeship starts.

Increasing the number of high-quality apprenticeships, preparing young people for a high skilled, high wage career.

In 2010-11 there were just 2,000 higher level apprenticeship starts – levels 4-7.  In 2017-18 there were 48,000 high level starts, meaning 13 per cent of all apprenticeships are now at a foundation degree level or higher.

Doubling investment in apprenticeships, so that all young people have access to world-class skills training and a well-paid job.

In 2019-20, we are spending £2.5 billion on apprenticeships, twice what was spent in 2010-11.

Improving outcomes for young people so more people can get on in life

Investing £400 million in education for 16-19-year-olds to ensure they get the skills they need.

This is the single biggest annual increase for the sector since 2010, and will go towards improving access to courses, delivering expensive subjects such an engineering and recruiting and retaining the best staff for T Levels and FE.

Creating a £500 million Youth Investment Fund, to support young people across the whole of the UK.

This investment will help build 60 new youth centres across the country, refurbish around 360 existing youth facilities, and provide over 100 mobile facilities for harder to reach areas. It will also support investment in the youth workforce.

Cutting youth unemployment in half, meaning more young people are getting on in life.

In May 2010 there were 927,000 unemployed 16-24 year olds, now there are just 488,000, a lower number than anytime under the last Labour government.

Reducing the number of young people not in education, employment or training, so that more young people are ready for their future.

In 2010 there were 1.1 million 16-24 year olds who were not in education, employment or training, we have reduced that a quarter, so that 281,000 fewer young people are inactive.