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Funding Boost for Higher Level Skills in the Workforce

Today the Government announced new funding, rising to at least 50 million a year by 2010-11 to support innovative ways for Higher Education work with employers to meet their skills needs. This makes a reality of its commitments in response to the higher level skills challenges set by Sandy Leitch in his Review of Skills.

The Leitch report made clear that 70% of the 2020 workforce has already left school which means that to remain world class in future, the nation needs at least 40% of adults to be qualified to Level 4 or above by 2020. To do this the higher education system needs to reach out beyond school leavers doing traditional degrees to more flexible courses designed and co-funded by employers.

HEIs will need to develop new ways of teaching the workforce, including in the workplace and on-line, tailored to company needs. This could take a variety of forms, ranging from short customised courses to support for management and leadership. The money funded through the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) will be used to part fund places with an employer topping up to the actual cost of the place, which might be in cash or a combination of cash and in-kind.

Bill Rammell, Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education said:

To compete globally, in terms of higher level skills, we need to think on a much bigger scale. There is already widespread good practice, but it doesn't go far enough. Every HEI should be considering how it can respond - in ways which match its mission.

The Government is serious about higher education and employers working and investing together in the higher level skills that this country needs. For the first time we are announcing an employer co-funding budget which will enable higher education increasingly to build the capacity to respond to employer needs. But it's not just about capacity. We need a cultural shift too so that employers can access a flexible and responsive service from HE - and one which they value enough to share the costs.

This funding comes alongside increases in the Higher Education Innovation Fund, which supports a wide range of knowledge transfer and business interaction initiatives, including continuing professional development.

Notes to Editors

  1. For further information, please contact Emma Griffiths DIUS Press Office 0203 300 8093
  2. The Government is committed to this being one of the best places in the world for research and innovation and having a world-class skills base. The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills was created to ensure that higher education engaged with business to turn research and learning into leading products, services and a highly-skilled workforce.
  3. The HE employer co-funding budget for the next three years will be 15m in 2008-09, rising to 40m in 2009-10 and at least 50m in 2010-11. This will allow HEFCE to deliver at least 5,000 additional student places in 2008-09, at least 10,000 in 2009-10 and at least 20,000 in 2010-11, and to invest in the infrastructure.
  4. We expect the average public contribution to the teaching costs of a co-funded place to be half of the public contribution to a typical place on a traditional course, with an employer topping up to the actual cost of provision, which might be in cash or a combination of cash and in-kind.
  5. HEFCE has announced Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) allocations of 112 million in 2008-09, 134 million in 2009-10 and 150 million in 2010-11.