Record investment in learning and skills announced

Record
levels of new investment will support post-16 learning and skills in England,
the Education Secretary said today.

Charles
Clarke confirmed that from April next year the Learning and Skills Council
(LSC) would receive a major increase in its budget, giving it more than £8bn in
2003-2004, rising to £9.2bn in 2005-2006. The LSC is responsible for funding
and planning education and training for over-16s in England.

Clarke
made clear that the record investment had to bring about radical and sustained
improvements, and significantly drive up the country’s overall skill levels.

"This
money is allocated on a something-for-something basis," he said. "A
vibrant economy needs thriving businesses, and they in turn need a skilled and
flexible workforce, supported by a high-quality and responsive further
education and training system."

More
flexible funding arrangements, which Clarke also unveiled, are designed to help
the LSC and its providers plan ahead with more certainty over the next three
years, and to transform the range of learning provisions on offer. The council
will, for the first time, be able to carry over unspent funds from one year to
the next.

By Paul Nelson

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