Funding boost and overhaul of technical education: Budget 2017

March 8 2017  

Funding boost and overhaul of technical education: Budget 2017
CIHT welcome the announcement in the budget today of a new investment of £500 million per year in technical education.  This follows government commitment in the Post 16-Skills Plan to the recommendations set out in the panel report on technical education chaired by Lord Sainsbury.
It is proposed that around 13,000 separate technical qualifications are streamlined and replaced with 15 new technical education routes which are expected to be rolled out from 2019.  We await details of the occupations within the 15 new technical routes and its impact on technical education in the sector before we can comment fully on government proposed plans. 
The government said it has already strengthened employment-based technical education through the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April 2017 that will support the delivery of 3 million apprenticeship starts by 2020. 
The new Technical Level - dubbed the “T Level” - announced in the Chancellor’s first and final spring budget proposes to make a clear distinction between Technical Levels and A-Levels, whilst giving – as Philip Hammond said today, parity of esteem between the technical and academic routes to employment.  
The budget statement said:  T-levels: 16-19 Technical education – The government will deliver the recommendations of Lord Sainsbury’s panel. The government will increase the number of programme hours of training for 16-19 year olds on technical routes by more than 50%, to over 900 hours a year on average, including the completion of a high quality industry work placement during the programme. To ensure the routes are well-designed and colleges properly prepared, they will be introduced from 2019-20, increasing funding in line with this roll out, with over £500 million of additional funding invested per year once routes are fully implemented.
In addition, the Government announced Further Education maintenance loans – The government’s aim is to encourage students to continue their training at high quality institutions such as National Colleges or Institutes of Technology. As the budget statement said:  
This will create real parity with the academic route and develop the higher-level skills employers demand. From 2019-20, the government will provide maintenance loans, like those available to university students, to students on technical education courses at levels 4 to 6 in National Colleges and Institutes of Technology. This will also support adults to retrain at these institutions. 
CIHT welcome the renewed focus on technical education, which we hope will bring greater diversification to the sector.  As young people respond to staying in education or learning until the age of 18 it is important that there is suitable choice and recognition that ‘A Levels’ may not suit every learner. This investment in technical education outlines the government’s commitment to reflect the success of other countries where technical education is set in high regard. However, the choice, credibility and accessibility for young people, parents and employers may determine the success of these new measures.
Sue Stevens, Director of Education & Membership at CIHT said:
“CIHT will continue to work with industry and the education sector. We are committed to influencing decision-makers to shape the long-term vision to attract, recruit and retain the skilled workforce needed to plan, design, build, manage and operate the world-class transport and infrastructure for a prosperous economy and a vibrant society”.
“We recognise the role that both further education colleges and universities play in developing and equipping the workforce of the future.   The sector faces a skills gap. In a recent survey of CIHT’s Corporate Partners, 96% of respondents anticipated having a skills shortage in the next few years (Routes to Diversity & Inclusion, 2015).  The recruitment, careful development and retention of the next generation is central to a vibrant, internationally competitive and diverse industry.  Industry trends show that with fewer graduates entering and an ageing current workforce, action must be taken to secure the pipeline of skilled engineers and transportation professionals for the future.”
The Chancellor announced 1,000 new PhD places targeted at the STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths - subject areas.  In addition the Chancellor announced £270 million to keep the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies like biotech, robotic systems and driverless cars.  CIHT welcome ongoing recognition of how vital the transport sector is to future of the UK – from introducing driverless vehicle technology and infrastructure to vehicle communications, to new robotics that will change how we inspect and maintain our infrastructure.
The National Infrastructure Plan for Skills, published by Infrastructure UK, sets out concerns in major sectors like roads, rail and energy. The report found that through growth in infrastructure investment, there would be a demand for over 250,000 construction and over 150,000 engineering workers by 2020, with a shortfall of nearly 100,000 additional workers by the end of the decade.  Programmes like HS2 and increased investment in roads will put further stress on the industry's capacity to deliver, the report found.  It noted that demand is forecast to outstrip supply over the next five years in all English regions.  
The Department for Transport Skills Strategy  highlighted the need for skilled people to build, maintain and operate the transport infrastructure. 
As we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week and National Careers Week it is timely for the government announcement in the Budget on technical education.  We are showcasing apprentices in the sector to recognise the valuable contribution that apprentices bring.  We have also helped to launch the UK’s very first Transport Planning Technician Apprenticeship at the Leeds College of Building.  CIHT will continue to promote the exciting range of careers in the sector to attract new people and inspire the next generation.
CIHT has developed a suite of career materials and guidance as part of a programme to help the industry deal with the range of technical skills shortages. This includes a diversity and inclusion toolkit which provides practical guidance on data gathering, attracting and retaining a more diverse workforce and on changing culture and behaviour.  It is the first toolkit of its kind for the highways and transportation sector and provides a route map to success through diversity and inclusion.
We recently held a skills roundtable with sector leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the sector and to help inform future priorities. 
As life-long learning is important in equipping people to navigate their careers, the Budget announced Lifelong learning pilots.  This means the government will spend up to £40 million by 2018-19 to test different approaches to help people to retrain and upskill throughout their working lives.


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