The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has welcomed funding for technical colleges and apprentices announced in the Budget.
The Government’s announcement of £180 million for up to 50,000 additional apprenticeship places over the next four years would go someway to bridging the current skills gap, the IET said. A pledge to expand the University Technical Colleges (UTCs) programme and establish at least 24 new colleges was also welcomed.
Dr Tony Whitehead, Director of Governance and Policy at the IET said the announcement on UTCs was “great news”.
“Key to their success will be how they are perceived. The great thing about them is that everyone, including universities and employers, are taking them seriously as a robust, enjoyable way of developing skills. The Government must not undermine this by a simplistic emphasis on academic routes and qualifications.
“Whilst growth in apprenticeships is good, the focus must be on high quality training in the sectors that will bring about economic growth, such as engineering.
“In this regard, we particularly welcome the support for business consortia to set up and maintain advanced and higher apprenticeships schemes, supported by grants, creating a further 10,000 apprenticeships.
“In the past, when the engineering sector was dominated by large companies, employers themselves were able to put in place progression routes. Now, with SMEs more prevalent, government must play a greater role.”