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Major expansion of Post-18 education and training to level up and prepare workers for post-covid economy
Posted on 29/09/2020


Major expansion of Post-18 education and training to level up and prepare workers for post-covid economy
  • Lifetime Skills Guarantee to give adults the chance to take free college courses valued by employers
  • New entitlement to flexible loans to allow courses to be taken in segments, boosting opportunities to retrain and enhancing the nation’s technical skills
  • PM acts to boost productivity and help the country build back better from coronavirus

The Prime Minister will today set out plans to transform the training and skills system, making it fit for the 21st century economy, and helping the country build back better from coronavirus.

Adults without an A-Level or equivalent qualification will be offered a free, fully-funded college course - providing them with skills valued by employers, and the opportunity to study at a time and location that suits them.

This offer will be available from April in England, and will be paid for through the National Skills Fund. A full list of available courses will be set out shortly.

Higher education loans will also be made more flexible, allowing adults and young people to space out their study across their lifetimes, take more high quality vocational courses in further education colleges and universities, and to support people to retrain for jobs of the future.

These reforms will be backed by continued investment in college buildings and facilities - including over £1.5bn in capital funding. More details will be set out in a further education white paper later this year.

The coronavirus pandemic and changing economy is why the Prime Minister is developing a long-term plan to ensure that, as work changes, people can retrain, upskill and find new well-paid jobs.

In a speech on Tuesday, the Prime Minister is expected to announce a new Lifetime Skill Guarantee.

He will say:

‘As the Chancellor has said, we cannot, alas, save every job. What we can do is give people the skills to find and create new and better jobs.’

‘So my message today is that at every stage of your life, this government will help you get the skills you need.’

He will add:

‘We’re transforming the foundations of the skills system so that everyone has the chance to train and retrain.’

Apprenticeship opportunities will also be increased, with more funding for SMEs taking on apprentices, and greater flexibility in how their training is structured – especially in sectors such as construction and creative industries where there are more varied employment patterns.

In 2000, over 100,000 people were doing Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, but that has reduced to fewer than 35,000 now. Those doing foundation degrees has declined from 81,000 to 30,000. As a result, only 10% of adults hold a Higher Technical Qualification as their highest qualification, compared to 20% in Germany and 34% in Canada.

This is despite the fact that five years after completion, the average Higher Technical Apprentice earns more than the average graduate.

That is why the government is committed to making higher education more flexible to facilitate lifelong learning, and to make it easy for adults and young people to break up their study into segments, transfer credits between colleges and universities, and enable more part-time study.

This new arrangement will provide finance for shorter term studies, rather than having to study in one three or four year block.

The government is also committing £8m for digital skills boot camps; expanding successful pilots in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands and introducing programmes in four new locations.

From next year, boot camps will be extended to sectors like construction and engineering, helping the country build back better and support our refreshed Industrial Strategy.

Earlier this year the government launched its free online Skills Toolkit, helping people train in digital and numeracy skills. This is being expanded today to include 62 additional courses.

£2.5 billion is also being made available through the National Skills Fund to help get people working again after covid, as well as giving those in work the chance to train for higher-skilled, better-paid jobs.


A first full level 3 qualification (A-level equivalent) is currently funded from the Adult Education Budget up to the age of 23. The Government will be extending this to all ages for courses which are shown to be valued by employers, supporting people to train into better jobs. Funding for free level 3 college courses will be available from next April, and will be funded from the National Skills Fund. We will set out details of courses next month.

Boot camps are employer-led, short, flexible training courses for adults, linked to guaranteed interviews and tailored to meet business and economic demand across the country. The first phase of boot camps will start over the next few weeks in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Liverpool with digital courses such as cloud services, full stack, digital for advanced manufacturing and cyber security. Some of these courses will be aimed at specific groups such as a Women in Tech course.

The second phase of boot camps will be trialled in West Yorkshire, the South West and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

The Government will set out the plan for delivering the flexible lifelong loan entitlement in a further education white paper later this year. This will:

  • Set out how we will make it easier for people to study high quality, higher education modules across Further and Higher education, allowing people to choose the length and type of course that is right for them.
  • Ensure that our student finance offer supports individuals to build up to a meaningful HE qualification/degree that will provide the skills individuals need throughout their lives.
  • Set out how to make credit transfer between further and higher education more of a standardised and mainstream feature of our post 18 education system; including making our new Higher Technical Qualifications easy to build on in this way.
  • We will consult and will bring forward legislation where necessary in this parliament to support this.

Black Country LEP @blackcountrylep Follow

Jun 16

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