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Yesterday the Government published its long-awaited Skills for Jobs White Paper – or more commonly known, the FE White Paper. The paper sets out the Government’s ambition to level up the FE sector, giving it greater parity of esteem with higher education. 

So what does it mean for manufacturers? 

1. Bigger role for employers through Local Skills Improvement Plans and new Skills and Productivity Board

In an effort to put employers at the centre of the reformed system, but also to align with the refreshed Industrial Strategy, Government will pilot new employer-led Local Skills Improvement Plans. These will be designed to tackle local skills mismatches, as well as ensure skills training is locally-driven, and can be tailored to the challenges and opportunities in specific areas. The intention is to legislate to put the employer leadership of Local Skills Improvement Plans on a statutory footing – watch this space! The Skills and Productivity Board will undertake expert analysis of national skills needs to inform government policy. There is also the new Skills and Productivity Board which is made up of experts providing an evidence-based assessment of the skills needs of the national economy. More details here.

2. Expansion of Institutes of Technology (IoTs) to meet demand for Level 4 and 5 provision 

IoTs will be the primary way to drive the increase in Level 4 and 5 provision. With more and more manufacturers reporting a need for skills at level 4 and 5, IoTs focus will be to “…deliver higher-level technical education with a clear route to high-skilled employment focusing on STEM skills in areas like advanced manufacturing, infrastructure, digital, and life sciences”. There are currently 12 operational IoTs, but by the end of the Parliament the Government hopes to have 20 IoTs covering every area of England. The desire is for IoTs to be the go-to for higher technical STEM education and training – we’ll be following up on this so get in touch if you want to feed in. 

3. A new Lifelong Loan Entitlement as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee 

A new loan entitlement will be made available from 2025 which will allow prospective learners to access funding for higher technical and degree level training i.e. training at between levels 4 and 6. This was a recommendation made in the Augar Report (it hasn’t been shelved) and is anticipated to make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly, spacing out their studies, transfer credits between institutions, but as always the proof will be in the pudding.

4. A three-point-plan to enforce the Baker Clause across schools 

Remember the Baker Clause? It requires schools to provide opportunities for every pupil, to meet apprenticeship providers and incorporate technical education options. However the general consensus has been that this clause hasn’t been enforced as intended so much so that the White Paper sets out a three-point plan to enforce the clause, with tougher formal action against non-compliance. It may not grab the headlines but this could signal a sea-change in careers advice for young people. 

5. And the majority of post-16 technical and higher technical education to be aligned to employer-led standards set by the IfATE

By 2030 the majority of post-16 technical education training will be based on employer-led standard. This means that by 2030 there should be a clearer, common, national system of standards. These have and will continue to be done by IfATE in conjunction with employers. 
There is a clear change in tone from the Government, recognising that skills and training is crucial to cracking the impending employment crisis we will see unless significant steps are taken. The ambition will need to be backed by funding – the Secretary for State said he’s hopeful for a multi-year funding settlement. The ball is in your court Treasury ahead of the March Budget…
Blog / Skills / Skills policy