Press release

Government cuts funding to low value qualifications

Almost 2,000 adult vocational qualifications that are not responsive to learner and employer needs will no longer be government funded

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

  • Courses in ski chalet hosting, personalising key fobs and making friendship bracelets all have public funding removed.

  • Stronger focus on rigorous qualifications that employers value.

Almost 2,000 adult vocational qualifications that are not responsive to learner and employer needs will no longer be government funded, Skills Minister Matthew Hancock announced today.

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Skills Funding Agency have identified 1,884 courses that have little or no demand from students and will no longer attract public money to keep them running.

Most of these qualifications have been awarded to fewer than 100 learners or no one at all in the past two years.

These qualifications include making friendship bracelets, woven baskets, ski chalet hosting, personalising key fobs, communicating in zoos, and eyelash perming.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said:

Our colleges offer many excellent vocational qualifications which help young people get on and give businesses the skills they need to grow.

But there are too many courses that get you nowhere and achieve little. Courses on ski chalet hosting and personalising key fobs send out the wrong message and damage the reputation of vocational education.

The skills system needs to be rigorous and responsive, so we can compete in the global race. By stripping these out and putting in place new tougher rules on qualifications we will put a laser sharp focus on those courses that give students a clear path from study to rewarding jobs.

Matthew Hancock will also set out a plan to review remaining qualifications annually to ensure that only rigorous and valuable vocational qualifications are funded.

The plan will include a new set of approval rules that all qualifications have to meet to get government funding. These new rules will include a minimum cohort size, a clear rationale, appropriate content and a clear need from employers for the qualification.

Qualifications that are unlikely to attract large numbers of candidates, but do provide high value to companies and individuals in specialised areas will not lose funding.

These specialised areas include qualifications in craft sectors such as blacksmithing and metalwork, and key areas of technology such as transporting radioactive material will not face losing their funding. Earlier this week Matthew Hancock announced plans to highlight courses for 16-19 year olds that will have the best prospects for further study, university or good jobs. Under the plans employers, trade associations and universities will underwrite the best vocational qualifications.

Notes to editors

  1. A set of interim rules will be made available by SFA

  2. The list of qualifications that will no longer attract funding, such as ski chalet hosting, communicating in zoos and eyelash perming, can be found at:

  3. In April the government published ‘Rigour and responsiveness in skills’. This sets how the government plans to update our skills system to make it more rigorous and responsive to the needs of employers and learners.

  4. The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Published 7 July 2013