The government has announced new funding, rising to at least £50m a year by 2010-11, for the skills needs of higher education (HE) employers.
The funding is part of a response to the Leitch Review of Skills, which sees its anniversary this week. In his report, Lord Sandy Leitch said that 70% of the 2020 workforce had already left school, adding that the nation needed at least 40% of adults to be qualified to Level 4 or above by 2020.
The money will be channelled through the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and used to part fund places with an employer topping up to the actual cost of the place.
A fund allocation of £112m in 2008-09, £134m in 2009-10 and £150m in 2010-11 has been set aside.
Bill Rammell, minister for lifelong learning, further and higher education, said: “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,” he said.
HEFCE aims 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.