UK : The Technical and Further Education Bill is set to gain royal assent after members of the House of Lords accepted government amendments.
The move paves the way for the Bill to complete its journey through Parliament before the latter is dissolved on 3 May, ahead of the general election.
Schools minister Lord Nash said that the Bill would “ensure that technical education in our country provides everyone with the skills and opportunities they need to succeed and gain skilled employment on a long-term basis”.
The Bill allows for the creation of a new insolvency regime for colleges and the expansion of the remit of the Institute for Apprenticeships to give it a greater role in overseeing a new structure for post-16 education in line with the Skills Plan. Once it receives royal assent, the Bill would also ensure that colleges and local authorities share data, following the devolution of adult skills funding.
Last week, the government blocked an amendment by the House of Lords to entitle families of apprentices to financial support. Robert Halfon, minister for apprenticeships and skills, who was present in the House of Lords today, told MPs that an apprenticeship was “a job”, and that the proposals would have cost the government more than £200 million a year.
The amendment was eventually defeated in the House of Commons by 298 votes to 182.
‘A world-class technical education system’
Speaking to members of the House of Lords today, Lord Nash said: “This Bill is integral to the government’s ambitious reforms for creating a world-class technical education system. These reforms will help to ensure that technical education in our country provides everyone with the skills and opportunities they need to succeed and gain skilled employment on a long-term basis, and at the same time that they will serve the needs of our economy and reduce our skills gap.”
He also highlighted the importance of an amendment to the Bill which will require Ofsted to “examine the quality of careers provision when conducting standard inspections of FE colleges”.
“One of the most important things we need to do for young people is provided guidance and knowledge about careers,” he said. “This amendment will send a clear signal that a high-calibre careers program must be embedded in every college.”
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