You’d be forgiven for thinking that Budget 2012 was only about the 50p tax rate, the ‘granny tax’ and pasties. Well, pre-19 education did get a look in, but only just.
During his Budget speech, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that the Government is exploring the idea of enterprise loans for young people to set up their own businesses. Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson had mooted the concept at the recent Global Entrepreneurship Congress. He suggested Government provide upfront finance, offering the same low interest rates and long payback terms that British undergraduates enjoy under the student loan system. Candidates who had a viable business plan could receive loans of £3,000-£5,000. The Chancellor did not outline any detailed plans, choosing instead to say a pilot will be conducted later this year.
Published alongside the Budget was an update to the Growth Review - a rolling programme (designed to last the whole of this Parliament) – calling on business to challenge the Government to remove barriers to growth. It provided updates to the 12 measures designed to:“make the education and skills system more responsive to employer needs”. These included:
Measure: The Government will invest £4.5 million over the next two years to support work experience as part of post-16 learning; work with the Federation of Small Businesses and other employer groups to review regulation impacting on work experience by the end of December 2011; and publish a guide to address common misconceptions about work experience.
Progress: 25 participating colleges in areas with the highest concentration of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) received additional Government funding to begin work experience trials in February 2012. Approximately 4,000 students will benefit. The Government also published a short myth-busting guide on work experience in December 2011, and is working with employer groups.
Measure: The Government will create an improved careers information portal as part of the National Careers Service from April 2012. As part of the Youth Contract, an additional £4.2 million over three years will be provided so that the service can provide careers interviews for 18–24 year olds within the first three months of being on Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Measure: The Government will publish destination information at ages 16 and 18 from Spring 2013 to encourage schools’ focus on young people’s future beyond school as well as attainment.
Progress: The Government will publish two destination measures: one at Key Stage 4 showing the destination of the young person the year after leaving compulsory education, to be published as experimental statistics in May 2012; and a 16-18 measure showing the destination after leaving by post-16 providers, to be published in 2013.
Measure: A group of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) – focused Sector Skills Councils will lead an industry group to kite-mark courses, helping students understand better which courses are valued by employers.
Progress: The measure will affect STEM courses in the 2013 Key Information Sets. However students will be able to access initial information on employer endorsement as part of the 2012 Key Information Sets, to be published in September 2012.
Measure: The Government will offer undergraduates access to mentoring support drawn from the existing network of STEM Ambassadors to give undergraduates insight into STEM occupations and raise the profile of the STEM sector.
Progress: Piloting will start in September 2012.
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