Brexit will paralyse Government for the next five years, predicted Vince Cable today at the launch of a report on Further Education at the RSA.
The former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills warned that Brexit now meant a “massive diversion of energy as MPs and civil servants spend the next five years focused on a problem which was entirely unnecessary.” He said he has some experience of the planning for what might happen in the event of Scottish separation, and said this was a drop in the ocean compared to the massive effort that would be required to separate from Europe.
The further education sector had been battered by under-funding and ever-changing Government policy, he said, but it was going to be critical in the post-Brexit world where free movement of workers in no longer the norm. “If you exclude people you have to train people to fill the gap,” he said, arguing that at least in part the reason immigration is so high is because of a skills shortage in the UK economy. And, as public finances will be weaker in the future as the economic consequences of Brexit become a reality, this extra effort in skills training is going to be a real challenge.
He believes the further education sector should fulfil two roles: providing the higher level skills a sophisticated economy increasingly needs; and providing first class remedial training for people who have fallen behind for whatever reason.
Whatever the challenges ahead for further education, it was, he said, worse in the universities which will see research funding lost and overseas students numbers dropping.
– a difficulty. sector but report optimistic view of the possibilities for the future. Brexit will have an impact: FE sector not as bad as universities which will loss research funding and students.