The Education and Training Foundation has been asked to draw up a “programme of reform” for functional skills qualifications, Skills Minister Nick Boles has announced.
In a letter to providers, Mr Boles said he was tasking the Foundation with coming up with ideas to make the qualifications a “well-respected and credible” alternative to GCSEs.
It comes after an ETF review of the qualifications led by former Jersey principal Professor Ed Sallis earlier this year found they were “not broken, but could be improved”.
In his letter, Mr Boles said: “In my previous letter, I mentioned that I had commissioned the Education and Training Foundation to carry out a review of the best way to achieve and accredit maths and English in post-16 education outside of GCSEs.
“The Foundation’s recommendations, published in March 2015, provide valuable new evidence for improving the quality and recognition of functional skills qualifications to ensure they meet the needs of employers and learners.
“I believe that Functional Skills should continue to be the main alternative English and Maths qualifications to GCSEs. However, to be well-respected and credible, it is critical they suit employers’ needs and are properly taught and assessed.
Mr Woodcock was part of a panel of FE and skills experts who spoke at a House of Commons event last night hosted by the Young Fabians Education Network (YFEN) about the prospects for England’s apprenticeship system over the five-year lifetime of the newly-elected Conservative government.
He said that he had “grave misgivings” about the 3m target spelled out in the Conservative Party’s General Election manifesto.
“We [the last Labour government] were battered over what we can now admit was an overly targeted approach to, for example, health service reform,” he said.
“It did in some cases skew the system towards churning out numbers at the expense of quality and that is [now] a huge concern for apprenticeships.
“If those apprenticeships do not genuinely embed people in the world of work and set them up for a future profession, then we are doing a disservice to those young people coming into them.”
Another panellist at the event, which had around 50 audience members and was entitled ‘Beyond 3m: A successful apprenticeships system for the UK’, was director of early careers at Barclays Bank, Mike Thompson (pictured right).
Apprenticeships can help drive a high-skill, high wage economy and give young people the skills they need to hit the ground running. Primarily for 16-24 year olds but older adults too, apprenticeships mean people can earn while they learn, receive on the job training, a wage, and a nationally-recognised qualification at the end of it.
This new campaign will kick off on Monday 9th of March during National Apprenticeship Week in partnership with Youthforce.
You’re Hired East Sussex is a county-wide campaign led by East Sussex County Council in partnership with the National Apprenticeship Service, the district and borough councils, colleges, training providers, Association of Chambers, Federation of Small Businesses, Youth Employability Service and Apprenticeships in Sussex.
This aims to find 500 businesses/schools across the five district and boroughs of East Sussex to support 500 work-ready young people into apprenticeships within five months.
Another objective is to help local businesses and local schools strengthen their workforce, and create job and training opportunities for young people. Furthermore, it will outline the benefits apprenticeships can bring to businesses, and highlight the support available for businesses considering this route.
The campaign will culminate in a closing ceremony in September to celebrate the number of pledges received from the businesses taking part and the young people beginning their apprenticeships.
Get involve on Twitter using the hashtag #YoureHiredES