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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson tears up Blair’s uni target in FE address

THE TARGET to send half of young people in Britain to university will be scrapped, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced today.

The 50 per cent aim, introduced by Tony Blair in 1999, will be replaced by a "German-style" further-education system that focuses more on apprenticeships.

In a virtual speech hosted by the Social Market Foundation, Mr Williamson vowed to invest more in further education – but teaching unions sought assurances that sufficient resources would be made available.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, hoped that the minister's "warm words" would be backed up with adequate funding for the FE sector.

Mr Barton pointed out that colleges had been left out of the government's recently announced £1billion “catch-up” fund.

Dr Mary Bousted, the National Education Union’s joint general secretary, said: "For any system to work it will have to be properly funded, and pay needs to be brought up to the levels of the broader education profession. 

"A chronic lack of funding for FE colleges and lack of employer participation in providing high-quality apprenticeships has ill-served young people taking this educational route, and needs to be urgently addressed."

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