Skills Minister Nick Boles has written to college leaders to reaffirm his message that they should be going from delivering a third of all apprenticeships to two thirds.

The letter, dated December 7, reiterates comments Mr Boles made while speaking at the Association of Colleges (AoC) annual conference in Birmingham last month.

“Only around a third of all funding for apprenticeships training will go to FE colleges in 2015/16, with the remainder taken up by private training providers,” wrote Mr Boles.

“I would really like colleges to re-assert themselves here and commit to growing this to two-thirds of what will be a much larger pot by 2020.

“I am confident that you have the capability and entrepreneurial spirit to do it, working closely with employers and learning from those that are already successful.”

The letter comes less than a fortnight after the Treasury’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement, announced by Chancellor George Osborne on November 25, which saw the adult skills budget and the national base rate for 16 to 19-year olds protected in cash terms until 2020.

Mr Boles described the outcome of the spending review as “a good settlement for the sector”.

Nonetheless, the letter said that further savings still needed to be made.

“Like the rest of the public sector, 16 to 19 education will be expected to play its part in tackling the budget deficit, and will need to identify further savings,” wrote Mr Boles.

“We are aiming to set out the detail of savings in 2016/17 in December, and the detail of savings from 2017/18 as soon as possible.”

Mr Boles also urged colleges to “diversify” and to be less reliant on government funding.

“Colleges must do more in this respect if they are to remain sustainable into the future,” he wrote.

“Sustainability also means making the most of the opportunities provided by the spending review, as we put more control over funding into the hands of employers and learners.”

Mr Boles also said that the area reviews of post-16 education currently underway had identified “considerable difference in efficiency across the FE sector, and scope for FE to be delivered which is both higher quality and lower cost.”