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Education: Finance

Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 10 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what plans has he to make additional funding available to further education colleges and universities for the re-skilling of individuals who hold a level three or level four qualification. (261442)

[holding answer 9 March 2009]: Alongside existing programmes and training provision, we have announced new measures to provide employment-focused training for people facing or at risk of redundancy, as well as those who have been out of work for a longer period of time. This includes: a package of £158 million to support 40,000 new employment-focussed training places for those at risk of redundancy; £83 million to support 75,000 extra further education places for the long-term unemployed; and £140 million to support 35,000 additional apprenticeship places. The amount of funding that will be available to further education colleges for this training will depend on demand and skills needs of individuals rather than being linked to prior attainment.

Within our existing entitlements, learners who already have a qualification at level 3 or level 4 may be able to access repeat qualifications, however the learner or their employer may be asked to make a contribution towards the cost of the course. Funding for repeat qualifications may be available through the Adult Learner Responsive or Employer Responsive route. In particular, Sector Compacts enable more flexible use of Train to Gain funding for retraining in subjects deemed a priority for a specific sectors.

In late January 2009, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) announced their Economic Challenge Investment Fund, a £50 million fund (£25 million from HEFCE matched with £25 million from individual higher education institutions) to provide help for individuals and businesses during these difficult times. This will help universities and colleges to provide tailored training, development and professional support to vulnerable groups, including those who want to re-skill in strategically important and vulnerable subjects.