Fraction of qualifications survive the latest Skills Funding Agency cull

The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) is axing the public funding of 1,567 adult qualifications in its third annual cull.

Just 45 of 195 submissions from awarding organisations resulted in a stay of execution after the SFA said in November that the future of 1,612 qualifications was in jeopardy.

Of those to have their public funding cut, 700 had no take-up in 2014/15 while 867 had low take-up of fewer than 100 enrolments. All the qualifications to have survived were in the low take-up category.

The qualifications review process began in 2013, and today’s announcement covers the offer for the 2015/16. The total number of qualifications eligible for government funding has been reduced by 6,900 and will now stand at 3,100.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “Vocational qualifications must respond to local business needs, be respected by employers and help people into jobs. That’s why we are removing a further 1,600 qualifications from public funding, making a total reduction of 6,900 qualifications since 2013.

“The qualifications we are removing had few or no users, and are simply cluttering up the system. People who work hard towards publicly-funded qualifications must be able to trust that they are worthwhile and valued by employers, and a streamlined, comprehensible system is an essential part of this.”

The announcement came the same day as the 2015/16 qualification funding catalogue was published, but with the Skills Funding Statement yet to be published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, it contained no rates.

Stewart Segal, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said: “We were pleased that the SFA involved all of the key groups in the review of these qualifications, including training providers. It would appear that qualifications which are being used effectively will remain fundable.”

David Hughes, chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, said:“It is clearly right that qualifications should support people to get into jobs, progress in their careers and get on in life and we want people to achieve qualifications which are recognised and respected by employers and others.

“But this should not be a simple numbers game; having fewer qualifications cannot be a sensible policy aim in itself.”

For more, see edition 127 of FE Week, dated Monday February 9.