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Vocational Training: West Midlands

Volume 502: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps his Department is taking to maintain a high skills level in the West Midlands. (307313)

The Government are taking a range of measures to maintain a high skills level in the West Midlands and across the country as a whole.

On 3 November Government published “Higher Ambitions: the future of universities in the Knowledge economy”. It sets out the priorities for the Government's approach to higher education (HE) over the next 10 years. Public funding for HE has increased by over 25 per cent. from 1997-98 to 2008-09 in real terms. We now have a third of the population with Level 4 plus qualification compared to less than a quarter in 1997.

We also published the “Skills for Growth” White Paper on 11 November. This is our National Skills Strategy which sets out a number of new commitments, including:

Renewal of commitment to the basic targets set out by the 2006 Leitch report for improving the skills level of the nation.

A new ambition for three quarters of young people to participate in higher education or complete a technician or equivalent course by the age of 30.

A new approach to anticipate and respond to future skills needs for economic prosperity and social mobility whilst continuing to respond to the “here and now” of employers and learners.

Expanding apprenticeships to create a modern class of technicians, with 35,000 more advanced apprenticeships and progression routes for apprentices into HE.

Improve quality of provision, empowering learners with greater choice; giving more autonomy to colleges and training institutions that deliver excellence; and cutting lower priority courses.

In our Skills Investment Strategy, published on the 16 November, we set out how we will fund skills training in the academic year 2010-11. It outlines that:

We will increase funding for adult apprenticeships to £400 million which includes increased support for advanced apprenticeships for 19-30 year-olds in line with the commitments in Skills for Growth for an additional 35,000 places over the next two years.

We will continue our investment to provide vital training and employability skills to support those out of work into sustainable employment, particularly through the six month offer and young person's guarantee.

We will also continue to support the delivery of statutory entitlements that give adults the opportunity to gain the basic skills for employability including literacy and numeracy skills.