Vocational and technical education in England is to get an extra 500m a year in a bid to train more skilled workers and boost the economy.
The plans, to be set out in next week’s Budget, also include replacing 13,000 existing qualifications with 15 “world-class routes”.
Students in further education or at a technical college will also be eligible for maintenance loans.
The new courses are expected to start from the 2019/20 academic year.
The government is calling the plans the most ambitious education reform since the introduction of A-levels 70 years ago.
‘Need to be self-sufficient’
The funding will increase the amount of training for 16 to 19-year-olds’ by 50%, to 900 hours a year.
A government spokesman said the move was part of its plan to tackle weaknesses in the UK’s productivity levels, and so improve living standards.
Association of Colleges chief executive David Hughes said the announcement would make a significant and positive difference, saying technical skills and education had been overlooked for too long.
He said: “Post-Brexit Britain will need more self-sufficiency in developing skills and people will need the confidence, support and opportunities to adapt and change over 50-plus year careers.”
The policy on vocational qualifications comes after a review of technical education carried out by Lord Sainsbury last year.
He said: “Targeted investment of this type makes economic sense – our international competitors recognised long ago that investing in technical education is essential to enhancing national productivity.
“But it is also essential if we are to equip people with the knowledge and skills they need to obtain rewarding and skilled employment in the future.”
Analysis: Sean Coughlan, education correspondent
With Brexit looming, there is even more urgency for industry to have enough home-grown talent in the workplace.
Vocational skills and technical education have been longstanding weaknesses in England’s education system.
Employers have called for more attention on worsening skills shortages rather than getting more young people into university.
This 500m will be a boost for raising the quality and status of workplace skills.
But school leaders have been complaining vociferously about a deepening funding crisis for basic running costs.
And this cash announcement will have head teachers wondering if they’re next in line for a Budget day extra helping.
Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39169490