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Recent news in the further education world is that David Hughes, currently Chief Executive of the Learning and Work Institute, will become the Association of Colleges (AoC) new Chief Executive in September 2016. 

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After 11 years working in the further education sector at the Learning and Skills Council and the Skills Funding Agency, David became Chief Executive of the Learning and Work Institute. He led the merger of NIACE wit Inclusion to form the institute as it is known today. 

David has said about the move: “I am excited about moving to AoC – I have always believed that colleges are critically important organisations for every community, for giving people better life chances and for inclusive economic growth. I’m looking forward to working with colleges across the country to ensure that they are able to make the maximum impact they can. It is challenging times for further education but there are opportunities to reach more students, support employers and help improve outcomes.”

David has joined the organisation at a crucial time as he aims to help colleges become a crucial part of their community and help guide them through the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.

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What is so important about the apprenticeship levy?

The apprenticeship levy is an opportunity for colleges to raise additional funds and engage with more employers. The current government targets stand at 3 million apprenticeships, asking large UK employers to fund these opportunities. The levy will support all post-16 apprenticeships in England and provide funding that each employer can use to meet their individual needs. The government are hoping that this incentive will normalise investment in apprenticeship training so that companies train apprentices rather than recruit staff from competitors or overseas.

Speaking about the apprenticeship levy, David Hughes has said, ““There are also some opportunities around level 3, 4, 5 and 6 loans, which have not been successful so far generally. But colleges, with support from local employers, could make those work more effectively.”

What does this mean for colleges?

The apprenticeship levy is a big boost for the AoC as it is a recognition by the government of the importance of investing in education and skills. Colleges will be able to form solid links with employers and benefit from the funds. Although the levy doesn’t come into place until next year, now is the time for colleges to start creating these links and reaching out to employers that could provide opportunities for their students. 

Having worked for the Learning and Skills Council and the Skills Funding Agency, the AoC believes that David Hughes “understands the importance of the work our colleges do, the impact of this on the lives of so many people, and its importance to productivity and the national economy.”

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