Thank you for contacting me about how post-16 education is being supported through the coronavirus outbreak.
I know teachers and students alike will be concerned about the impact that coronavirus is having on further education (FE). It is important that the sector emerges in a strong position, as we will rely on FE to teach the skills our economy will need to fully recover.
I understand Ministers have frequently engaged with FE providers to monitor the level of training that they are able to deliver and have been actively working with them to address issues. Guidance for FE providers on how they should operate during coronavirus is regularly updated and can be found here:
A range of flexibilities have been introduced, including encouraging online delivery, allowing furloughed workers to continue the ‘off-the-job’ training element of their apprenticeship and increased flexibility around end point assessments, so that as many learners as possible can successfully complete their courses.
For students it is important that employers, especially small businesses, can take on new apprentices this year. I am pleased therefore to hear that Ministers will continue to support them to ensure this can continue. In addition, a new online Skills Toolkit has been launched to provide free high quality digital and numeracy courses, the skills most sought after by employers. This can be found here - https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/find-a-course/the-skills-toolkit
Alongside all this additional support, an extra £3 billion had already been pledged over the course of this Parliament for a National Skills Fund to help people learn new skills.
Finally, on 30 June the Prime Minister announced an Opportunity Guarantee so that every young person has the chance of apprenticeship or an in-work placement, to ensure they can maintain the skills and confidence they need to find the job that is right for them. FE will play a critical part in the delivery of that guarantee and further information on how it will operate will be published shortly.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.