The Skills Funding Agency (‘SFA’) distributes money in England on behalf of the European Social Funding (‘ESF’), which seeks to increase skills and employability in young people and the unemployed. In 2014/15, the SFA distributed around £305m to 107 colleges and independent training organisations in England (the ESF, as a whole, distributes around £2.3bn across England in its current funding round that runs from 2014-2020). It is not clear if the current funding round will be completed now that the UK has voted to leave the EU; much of this type of arrangement will be negotiated in the coming months, one would assume. It would appear that much of the £305m is spent on funding apprenticeships.

The ESF also provide NEET (not in employment, education or training) funding through its Youth Employment Initiative. It is unclear how much of the £170m of funding goes to further education colleges; however, a proportion of this money goes towards funding apprenticeships.

The number of students from the EU in further education is not recorded. A limitation on the free movement of people could see a drop in student numbers, but the extent of this would be impossible to predict. However, some commentators have speculated that, if the free movement of people is restricted, then jobs that have previously been filled by workers from other EU countries will now need to be filled by domestic workers. This could lead to an increase in domestic citizens’ demand for further education providers. A drop in apprenticeship funding may also be a possibility.

We would advise that any major education policy decisions are likely to be held off until the government is in a more stable position. This has already been highlighted in a letter by Sam Gyimah, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Childcare and Education, dated 27 June 2016, informing the Education Select Committee that he is not yet in a position to confirm the outcome of the first stage of the national funding formulae consultation to a select committee hearing scheduled to take place on 6 July 2016.

BWB’s Education team will continue to provide updates on Brexit as matters progress. To receive these directly to your inbox, please sign up to our education mailing list here.

Posted on 01/07/2016 in Brexit Briefcase

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