Hammond announces £500m T-Levels investment

A move to prevent Britain from “languishing at the bottom” of the international league table for technical education has made by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Budget.

Mr Hammond trumpeted an investment of £500m into the introduction of “T-Levels” aiming to put to bed the “lingering doubt” about the parity of esteem attaching to technical education pursued through the further education route.

Hailing the work of Lord Sainsbury and Baroness Wolfe, and others who concluded that students need a much clearer system of qualifications, Hammond announced a new blueprint, replacing 13,000 qualifications with 15 career clear-focused routes.

He said: “We will increase by over 50% the number of hours training for 16-19-year-old technical students, including a high-quality three-month work placement for every students, so when they qualify, they are genuinely “work-ready”.

“Once this programme is fully rolled out, we will be investing an additional £500m a year in our 16-19 year olds.

“And to encourage and support the best of them to go on to advanced technical study, we will offer maintenance loans for those undertaking higher level technical qualifications at the new Institutes of Technology and National Colleges, just as we do for those attending University.

“[We are] Putting the next generation first, to safeguard their future, and to secure our economy.”

The Chancellor also said the changing labour markets meant that retraining is vital, “with many of our young people today needing to retrain at least once, and perhaps more often, during a working life that may span more than 40 years.

He said the Department of Education would invest £40m in pilots to test the effectiveness of different approaches to lifelong learning.

Meanwhile, he pledged to commit £5m to promote “returnships” to the public and private sector, helping people back into employment after a career break.

And he vowed to enhance the UK’s position as a world leader in science and innovation, allocating £300m of a £23bn fund announced in the Autumn Statement to fund the support of the brightest and the best research talent, including backing for 1,000 new PhD places and fellowships, focused on STEM subjects.

He said: “Long ago, our competitors in Germany and the US realised that to compete in the fast moving global economy, you have to link skills to jobs.

“And, I am pleased to report, in National Apprenticeship Week, that our apprenticeship route is now, finally, delivering that ambition here, with 2.4 million apprenticeship starts in the last Parliament, and the launch of the Apprenticeship Levy in April supporting a further 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.”

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