Business Support (Hertfordshire)

Charles asks the Education Secretary about vocational skills training in Herts

Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures she is taking to encourage vocational skills training in Hertfordshire; and if she will make a statement. [756]

Phil Hope: Specific measures to encourage vocational skills training in Hertfordshire are a matter for the Learning and Skills Council. Mark Haysom, the Council's Chief Executive, will write to the hon. Member with this information and a copy of his reply will be placed in the Library.

The Government's Skills Strategy, "21st Century Skills: Realising Our Potential" (July 2003) and "Skills: Getting on in business, getting on at work" (March 2005) set out our plans for increasing opportunities for adults to develop their skills. The 14-19 White Paper, "14-19 Education and Skills", published in February, set out proposals to improve vocational education and qualifications for young people through a national entitlement to specialised diplomas in 14 broad sector areas. Employers, through Sector Skills Councils, will lead in their design and higher education institutions will also have an important role to play.

Letter from Mark Haysom to Mr. Charles Walker, dated 8 June 2005:

Thank you for your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills where you ask what measures she will take to encourage vocational skills training in Hertfordshire. The Secretary of State has asked me to reply on her behalf as Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council.

In its Strategic Area Review, the LSC for Hertfordshire recognises that the depth and breadth of vocational learning in Hertfordshire is limited. It is working with partners to develop vocational provision for 14-16 year olds. For example, the Increased Flexibility Programme offers young people the opportunity to undertake vocational qualifications, usually undertaking some work at the local College. Nearly 1,500 Hertfordshire young people are currently on the programme. The LSC is also supporting collaboration between schools and colleges for 16-19 year olds, with Colleges leading on developing the vocational elements. Excellent examples of this work can be seen in Welwyn Garden City and Stevenage, with encouraging developments in Hemel Hempstead, Broxbourne and St. Albans.

In Bishops Stortford, Hertford Regional College is working with Birchwood High School to develop vocational provision on the school site, with funding support from the LSC.

In many parts of Hertfordshire the Further Education infrastructure is in an unsatisfactory condition. The LSC has supported the development of facilities for Learners with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities at Ware, and for construction at Broxbourne (which is due to open this September). Major campus redevelopments are being planned at 3 of Hertfordshire's 4 Colleges-Oaklands, West Herts and Hertford Regional. Plans for establishing a "Skills Centre" in Hemel Hempstead are also being developed with West Herts College, working closely with the Dacorum schools.

Working with employers, The LSC has established Sector Employer Groups in key sectors for the Hertfordshire economy. These are providing employers with a voice for expressing their needs, and a means of communicating with learning providers so that relevant provision is developed and delivered. We are also working with the University of Hertfordshire and the four Hertfordshire Further Education Colleges to increase the number and range of Foundation Degrees offered in the County through the Colleges and the University of Hertfordshire. We expect to have Foundation Degrees in nine subjects available by September 2005.

I trust this helps with your query."