At a recent event discussing the creation of a ‘skills revolution’ in further and higher education, former skills minister Robert Halfon said: “Literacy and numeracy are the bedrock of academic and vocational success but too many students fail GCSE resits. Rather than swallowing up valuable resources by insisting on retakes for those who fail English and maths, with failure rates of over two thirds in each case, we should be offering these individuals functional skills courses to improve their basic literacy and numeracy.”
Mr Halfron talked about a ‘rebalancing of funds’ away from academic higher education courses towards technical education, adding, “I want to see more universities offering apprenticeships. There are currently just 11,600 degree apprenticeships. I hope that one day, half of all university students are doing them.”
The panel event was organised by the Centre for Social Justice, the Open University and the Learning and Work Institute.
Stephen Evans, the chief executive of the Learning and Work Institute, said, “It was absolutely disastrous that participation in functional skills courses had fallen by 25 per cent in five years, given there are still nine million adults lacking literacy or numeracy skills.”
He called for an extra £200 million to be set aside to double the numbers enrolled on functional skills courses.