Press release

Cable calls for new debate on role of adult further education

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Employers and further education providers are asked to look into how the vocational education system is able to meet future skills challenges.

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Business Secretary Vince Cable will today (24 March 2015) call on employers and further education (FE) providers to look into how the country’s vocational education system is better able to meet the major skills challenges of the future.

Speaking at an event with FE college principals at Lancaster House, the Business Secretary will discuss how to strengthen the provision of higher level vocational education, as well as basic adult numeracy and literacy skills, to urgently address skills needs to help the country’s employers compete in the global market.

Business Secretary Vince Cable will say:

We have rapidly expanded apprenticeships and reduced the gap in parity of esteem between vocational and academic education.

My aspiration is for the country to have a world-class standard of vocational education that can meet the future skills needs of industry, which are rapidly evolving. This consultation will open up the debate about how we can meet this challenge but also address how colleges can continue to provide core literacy and numeracy training and offer a second chance to adults who lack the core skills they need for the modern world of work.

Our further education system is central to creating a highly skilled workforce and I’ve been impressed by the many colleges I’ve visited across the country that, despite funding pressure, work closely with local employers to respond directly to the needs of local business.

The consultation, ‘A dual mandate for adult vocational education’, summarises progress against the government’s reforms to make further education more responsive to the needs of employers and trainees. It will also assess how, in addition to providing vocational qualifications up to degree level, FE providers are offering a vital lifeline to those who reach adulthood without the basic skills they need for the workplace.

The consultation will also consider how vocational education serves local labour markets to meet their skills needs. In particular this will cover the implications of more local influence over skills from recent devolution agreements for Manchester, Sheffield, West Yorkshire, and London.

The consultation will run until 16 June 2015.

Notes to Editors

  1. The consultation document is available online at ‘Adult vocational education: challenges over the next decade’,
  2. The government welcomes responses from employers, FE providers and other interested parties by 16 June 2015. More information on how to respond is available online
  3. More information on the devolution plans for UK cities is available at ‘Giving more power back to cities through City Deals’
Published 24 March 2015