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The Technical and Further Education Bill was introduced in the House of Lords on 10 January 2017 and is scheduled for second reading on 1 February 2017. The Bill completed third reading in the House of Commons on 9 January 2017.

The Bill includes the following provisions:

  • To extend the remit of the Institute for Apprenticeships to include regulation of the quality of classroom based technical education in England, creating the new Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE). The role of IFATE has been described by the Government as being to support the implementation of the reforms set out in its Post-16 Skills Plan.
  • To introduce an insolvency regime for further education institutions, intended to improve the “financial reliance” of the sector. This would provide for the creation of an education administrator, to be appointed by the courts as part of the insolvency procedure.
  • Following the devolution of responsibility for further education in some areas of England to combined authorities, the Bill would also allow the Secretary of State to continue to be provided with information by further education institutions.

Government’s Aims for the Bill

The Government’s stated aim in introducing the Bill is to support the improvement of technical and further education and thereby increase social mobility and help increase productivity by addressing skill shortages in the economy. It comes at the same time that the Government has proposed the creation of 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020, with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy to be paid by large employers.

Opposition Amendments

The Opposition has stated its support for the objectives of the Bill, but tabled a number of amendments during committee stage and report stage, the purpose of which it described as being to probe how the provisions in the Bill might work in practice.

There were two divisions on Opposition amendments to the bill at report stage: the first on a requirement for the Government to lay a strategy on improving careers education before Parliament and the second on whether to prevent education administrators from transferring certain assets to a for-profit private company. Both of these motions were defeated.

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