NIACE and Inclusion call for Spending Review reforms

7th September 2015

A new Apprenticeship Quality and Access Fund is being proposed by NIACE and Inclusion as part of proposals put forward ahead of the Spending Review 2015.

The new Fund, ring fenced from funding raised through the Apprenticeship Levy, will invest in widening access to apprenticeships from underrepresented groups and fund employer-led quality initiatives to enhance outcomes for apprentices and businesses. Around £1billion is spent on widening access to universities, but there is currently no funding for similar initiatives in apprenticeships to combat gender bias and under-representation of BME and disabled people.

The joint Spending Review submission from NIACE and Inclusion calls upon the Government to make clear its impact to investing in lifelong learning and support for people to move into work and progress at work. It also sets out how the Government can use the Spending Review to improve the effectiveness of the employment, learning and skills systems and help secure a greater return on investment, against the backdrop of some very challenging funding decisions. Our proposals include: 

  1. Personal Career Accounts to deliver greater investment from individuals and employers; 
  2. A new Apprenticeship Quality & Access Fund ring-fenced from the Apprenticeship Levy to drive forward greater demand for businesses and help Government achieve their 3 million target; 
  3. A single funding agency for all post 19 loans, merging SFA and HEFCE to maximise the investment that goes to the frontline and improve parity of esteem between academic and vocational routes.
  4. A new radical vision for Community Learning, maximising its ability to support the breadth of government policy, including employment and skills, mental and public health, stronger families, digital engagement, social mobility, inclusive communities, healthy ageing and strengthening civil society.
  5. A radical refocusing of employment support for disabled people, merging Employment and Support Allowance support currently within Work Choice and the Work Programme to provide much more effective support to help halve the disability employment gap.

David Hughes, chief executive at NIACE said:

“Government needs to use this spending review to make an important commitment to prioritise investment in learning, skills and employment.  This is critical to nurturing our economy, helping to strengthen productivity and ensuring that economic growth is inclusive . Our proposals as good for people and businesses, boosting opportunity and competitiveness in the global economy and improving public services – contributing to sustainable improvements in tax revenues and reductions in spending pressures.”

“If the Government wants to fulfil its own ambitions and aspirations for a more productive Britain, halving the disability unemployment gap and creating 3 million Apprenticeships, then it must ensure that adults of all ages have opportunities to learn and to get on in work and in life. Far too many people are missing out which not only threatens their own life chances, but damages the prospects for increased workforce productivity, and for sustained economic growth”.