And in a further move to close the gulf between academic and practical studies and ensure colleges and universities are operating on a level playing field, colleges will be given access to the same student finance system currently used by universities for the technical subjects that they offer.
Education loans will also be made more flexible, allowing adults and young people to space out their study across their lifetimes rather than in three or four-year blocks.
Apprenticeship opportunities will also be increased, with more funding for SMEs taking on apprentices, and greater flexibility in how their training is structured – especially in sectors such as construction and creative industries where there are more varied employment patterns.
The measures are being funded by the £2.5bn National Skills Fund, alongside a separate £1.5bn investment in college buildings.
The announcements come following a record month of enrolment for Coventry College, which received more than 700 extra course entries from adult students in September.
Gemma Knott, Assistant Principal for Business Growth at Coventry College, said: “Colleges have always played a vital role in laying the foundations for the next generation of skilled workers, and it’s fantastic that this is now being properly recognised by government.
“We are already seeing more adult learners studying with us to prepare themselves for a career change, which has undoubtedly been driven by redundancy in previous roles.
“The Lifetime Skills Guarantee is set to accelerate this demand next year, so in order for colleges to meet the demand, we will need additional resource and investment to ensure as many learners are equipped to realise their potential.
“Having access to the same student funding streams as universities is also great news for us, as it will undoubtedly break down the barriers for some adults who don’t qualify for the Lifetime Skills Guarantee but still want to switch careers, and enables us to reinvest more funds into the College itself.
“Whether it’s someone wanting to switch careers, or an employer who is looking to up skill and add to their workforce - now is the time for us all to seize the moment with this additional government support.”
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