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Further Education and Skills
18 Jun 2008
The Guardian 2nd Annual Summit held at QEII Conference Centre, London

Further education and skills are essential assets for the future and the backbone of education and skills policy in the UK. The Leitch and Foster Reviews set out policies which depend on FE and skills to improve economic growth, productivity and to meet the demand to make the UK the leading knowledge economy over the next decade. It falls principally to the FE and skills sector to deliver if the UK is to remain competitive. Following the split of DIUS and DCSF and the transfer of funding responsibilities to local authorities, the sector now also has to operate in a new financial landscape. This summit looked at the new challenges facing the sector and what strategies it will need in order to thrive. Recognising the fundamental contribution of the FE sector to skills raising, David Willetts MP pointed out the surprising statistic that the number of students has dropped from 5.25m in 2002 to the present figure of 3.5m. There is, he said, "quite a dramatic picture of significant change" which is "depriving young people...and older learners of opportunities that we believe they should have".