Across our country and the West Midlands we are lucky to be able to boast that we have some of the finest Universities in the world. However, in technical education we have fallen behind other leading nations, with too many students, parents and employers seeing Further Education as the second best option.

That is why I welcomed the Augar Review and its wide-ranging examination of post-18 educational opportunities. Further Education Colleges are vital to provide training for future generations, to be able to help drive economic prosperity and deliver the Modern Industrial Strategy which is central to our ambition in the West Midlands.

I believe passionately that we have to give more young people a genuine choice about their education. We have seen the expansion of more high quality apprenticeships, delivered new technical qualifications on a par with A’ Levels and now I believe its right to reform Further Education.

It’s not enough to simply say that Further Education and Higher Education should be seen as equal, we need to take some action to ensure it happens and that is why I welcome this review.