NIACE response to 2015 Spending Review25 November 2015
Responding to the Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015, NIACE Chief Executive, David Hughes, said:
“I am delighted the Chancellor has recognised today that investment in adult skills is as important to our national growth, security and productivity as spending on health, defence and education. It’s clear that the Skills Minister and his officials have fought hard and skilfully in the difficult negotiations with the Treasury in a tough spending environment. Cash protection over the parliament will provide colleges and training providers with the stability and certainty they will need to invest in new approaches to adult skills. There is a lot of work to be done now so that learners across the country get access to learning opportunities they want and need. Devolution, the Apprenticeship Levy and the extension of loans all require innovation, collaboration and investment.
“I’ve said previously that the Apprenticeship Levy is a game changer. It will raise around £3 billion per year and it is so important that a proportion of this, perhaps our suggested 1%, is dedicated to a Quality and Access Fund. This would address the twin requirements of improving access into apprenticeships for under-represented groups and achieving higher quality programmes. Our Apprentice Charter, a new mark of recognition for employers offering high quality apprenticeships, is a simple idea which employers and apprentices want to see put into action. We will work with the new Institute for Apprenticeships as we roll out the Apprentice Charter.
“Extending eligibility of learning loans to younger learners and to higher level learning could easily exacerbate market failures in the 24+ advanced learning loan system. This change makes it even more important for Government and providers to work together to make the loans system much more flexible and provide better information to learners. Our work in London, starting in the New Year, to test and evaluate new ways of delivering loan funded learning will help find ways to make loans work better for adults.
“We welcome the Chancellor’s announcements on devolution, which closely mirror our shared ambitions for more responsive local delivery of learning, skills and employment services. Now we need to use the next 18 months to develop good ideas into great practice so that local labour markets, employers, young people and adults all thrive through joined up commissioning and service delivery.”