The measures come after the Prime Minister delivered his levelling up speech, where he underlined the need to escalate the value of practical and vocational education through the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, which will boost skills and open up opportunities for more people at every stage of their lives.
The Government’s successful Skills Bootcamp training programmes will be expanded across the country, offering an extra 16,000 fully funded places for adults to upskill or retrain.
The expansion covers a range of digital and technical training including in green skills, such as solar energy installation, sustainable agriculture, nuclear energy, and green transport, along with coding and software development, so more adults have the opportunity to access the skills and training they need that leads directly to a job.
A consultation has been launched on the future of the National Skills Fund, which has already supported thousands adults to upskill and retrain through Skills Bootcamps, and access to almost 400 free courses through the Free Courses for Jobs programme.
The consultation will ask for views on how the fund should be adapted for the future, so it continues to meet the future skills needs of individuals and employers, levelling up opportunities across the country.
Eighteen areas across the country will also be the first to lead work to build stronger partnerships between local employer groups, colleges and other providers through the Skills Accelerator programme, so the training on offer meets the need of local communities and fills skills gaps in key sectors of the economy including construction, digital, clean energy and manufacturing. This will mean more people can get the training needed to secure great jobs close to home.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
No matter where you are from, everyone should have the chance to get the skills needed to get a good job – whether that’s to launch a new career or upskill in their industry.
We have put skills right at the heart of our ambitious reforms, to make sure we can build back better from the pandemic, empowering people to get the skills they need to build the life they want.
Today marks the next vital step in our mission to level up opportunities by investing in skills, investing in lifelong learning and investing in communities so that people can thrive and prosper – wherever they live.
New careers guidance has been published for all schools and colleges, to make sure that every young person is aware of all the options available to them, including apprenticeships and technical education opportunities instead of concentrating on the traditional university route.
A further consultation has been launched on plans to simplify funding for adult skills training, while giving colleges more freedom to decide how best to support the training needs of the local communities they serve, so they can focus on helping more people into good jobs locally.
Julian Gravatt Deputy Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges said:
The Department for Education set out some ambitious plans in the Skills for Jobs white paper to improve the way we meet the education and skills needs of half the population and ensure employers have the skills they need.
The current funding and accountability systems can sometimes be an obstacle to these goals so we welcome the open way in which the Department is consulting on reforms and look forward to working through the details over the summer.
Skills Bootcamps offer flexible training of up to 16 weeks, so adults have the opportunity upskill or retrain in sector-specific skills including technical and digital training and fast-track to an interview with a local employer.
Carl McIntosh, 37, Junior Software Engineer, Wise a Birmingham-based technology company that specialises in the self-employment sector, said:
When the pandemic hit, I was made redundant from my job in printing, but the Skills Bootcamp in coding has given me a whole new lease of life! It really prepares you for work, teaching you everything from different codes, to soft skills like how to communicate effectively and work as a team. And the fast-track to an interview, meant I was able to successfully gain a role as a Junior Software Engineer at Wise. I feel so happy to have had the Skills Bootcamp opportunity and that I’ve been able to join the tech sector.
Since April, adults without a full qualification at Level 3 (A level equivalent) have been able to access almost 400 free courses, through the Free Courses for Jobs offer, ranging from engineering to healthcare to conservation, to help them gain in-demand skills and open up job opportunities.
In January the government set out vital reforms to post-16 education and training in the Skills for Jobs White Paper, which will ensure everyone no matter where they live can gain the skills they need to progress and secure a great career at any stage of their life.
The measures announced today build on the work already underway to transform further and technical education, including the roll out of new T Levels, working with employers to create more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities, establishing a system of Higher Technical Education and a network of Institutes of Technology, backed by up to £290 million.