The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has expressed concern over the
Government’s failure to reform funding to make post-16 education more flexible
and responsive to local needs when it launched its national skills strategy in
The strategy, which was launched amid fanfare and summer heat on 9 July at
the London Eye came with no immediate promise of extra funds to raise the level
of adult skills in England.
The central message of 21st Century Skills: Realising Our Potential was for
the system of post-16 education in England to be truly ‘demand-led’ – planned
strategically to meet the needs of UK plc. But employers, particularly in
engineering, had been hoping for additional money to expand the programme of
While broadly supporting the strategy, the CBI was disappointed that the
allocation of budgets for post-16 education remained highly centralised.
CBI senior policy adviser Maniza Ntekim said 80 per cent of individual
Learning and Skills Councils’ budgets goes straight to providers.
"Locally Learning and Skills Councils only have 1-2 per cent
discretion. To really make a difference that needed to be freed up," she
"One of the areas we thought the Government could have gone further
with was funding reforms," continues Ntekim. "Funding is key to
changing the system, making it more responsive and more demand-led."
Andrew McCoshan, director of international learning and skills consultancy
Ecotec Research and Consulting said that funding still goes through users:
"If the young people going through the college door want to be
hairdressers, then the college provides hairdressing courses, even if what the
local economy really needs is engineers. That means the funding has not been in
tune with what the local economy needs.
"The skills strategy attempts to make the system more employer
driven," he said. "It’s always been hard to get mainstream funding
more employer-driven, so if [the Government] can crack that, it would be
By Margaret Kubicek