The government knows that the labour market is continually changing along with the demand for skills. We welcome Dr. Marshall’s request for employers to invest more in their training. The government is working with employers to design and deliver a skills system that is more responsive to their needs. We are taking steps to increase the supply of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills by supporting new institutions such as NMiTE, a new engineering university in Hereford, and the Institute of Coding, where a consortium of employers and universities will ensure Higher Education courses meet the needs of the economy. We are also funding interventions such as the Stimulating Physics Network and the new Level 3 Mathematics Support Programme to improve the standard of STEM education and engage more young people in these subjects. In 2017, there were 35,000 more entries to STEM A levels compared to 2010, an increase of 17 percent.
We are supporting the Institute for Apprenticeships, an employer–led body which is leading the development of apprenticeship standards and assessment plans. From April 2018, the Institute will assume responsibility for T level standards. 214 new employer-designed apprenticeship standards are now ready for delivery, with over 300 more in development. Take up of higher-level apprenticeships in 2016/17 was up by nearly 35 per cent compared to 2015/16 and there were 24,600 apprenticeship starts in 2016/17, increasing from 4,300 the year before. Before Christmas, over 3,000 higher and degree apprenticeships from over 40 high profile employers were being advertised.
We are introducing an ambitious ‘National Retraining Scheme’ to boost adult learning. This will bring together government, businesses and employees through the Confederation of British Industry and the Trade Union Congress. A set of sector-focused and employer-driven initiatives starting this year will target immediate skills shortages in key sectors, with £64 million for construction and digital skills.
Skills Advisory Panels (SAPs) will help align skills provision with local employer demand. The first seven SAP areas are West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Leeds, Greater Lincolnshire, Thames Valley Berkshire, and Cornwall & Isles of Scilly.
We are encouraging a high quality, viable and resilient Further Education sector comprised of a range of providers, capable of attracting outstanding teachers and leaders to deliver these changes successfully. The department has committed up to £500 million a year to support the delivery of T levels once all routes are available and announced an extra £20 million for colleges to invest in the workforce to deliver new T level qualifications.
The department is also investing in new Institutes of Technology and supporting National Colleges to address the need for specialist skills.