Nearly five million people took part in a Learning and Skills Council funded Further Education course in 2008/09, according to statistics published last week.

The figures, published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), also show that more than 3.3 million people achieved a Further Education qualification in 2008/09. The statistics show a record 239,900 apprenticeship starts, and 143,400 Apprenticeship achievements in 2008/09;

Over one million people have achieved a qualification through Train to Gain, and 1.6 million qualifications started through Train to Gain since the scheme was launched in April 2006. Between 2000/01 and 2008/09 provisional figures show that so far 3.24 million working age adults have improved their basic skills and achieved a qualification in literacy or numeracy, against a Public Service Agreement target of 2.25 million, two years early.

Further Education, Skills and Apprenticeships Minister Kevin Brennan, said:

“I am immensely proud of all the people who have taken part and achieved a qualification in the last year. It is important their achievements and contribution to the businesses they work for and the economy as a whole is recognised.

“These figures are evidence that we are backing young Britain during the recession and the recovery, and that training is more diverse now than ever. But we will not be complacent. We will continue to ensure that plenty of opportunities are available to help people carve out a career and deliver the jobs of the future.”

The figures published today also include statistics for the first six months of the 2009/10 academic year. Although these figures cannot be compared to last year because they are provisional and not complete, they do show that so far there have been 146,100 Apprenticeship starts and 63,900 Apprenticeship achievements in 2009/10. Since 1996/7 there have been 2.25 million Apprenticeship starts.

Provisional data also shows that there have been 250,600 Train to Gain starts, and 218,000 Train to Gain achievements in the first six months of the 2009/10 academic year.

Geoff Russell, LSC Chief Executive, said:

“These figures show how the further education sector continues to make a huge difference to the lives of millions of young people and adults as well as contributing to the success of many thousands of businesses.

“With the Skills Funding Agency coming into existence on 1st April, we will continue to work with colleges and training organisations to build on what has already been achieved. The sector is now well placed to help build a stronger economy and a more confident and equitable society.”

From next Thursday (April 1) the Skills Funding Agency will take over the responsibilities of the Learning and Skills Council. This move will ensure skills funding can respond flexibly to the changing needs and demands of employers and students.

Employee Engagement Summit 2010