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Skilled Workers: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 72243, tabled on 10 July 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the level of skills funding for adults at risk of unemployment due to the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps he plans to take to enable people to retrain for employment opportunities in their locality.

Answered on

15 July 2020

We have been working across Government to build a package of support measures to boost skills among those who will be hardest hit by the labour market impacts of COVID-19. On 8 July, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced measures across a range of targeted work-based training offers to support people to build the skills they need to get into work in all communities across the country. This amounts to investment of £1.6 billion in employment support schemes, which will substantially expand existing provision. This includes:

  • £111 million to triple the number of traineeships;
  • £17 million to triple the number of sector-based work academy placements;
  • Paying businesses to take on new apprentices – an extra £2000 for each apprentice under 25 and £1,500 for apprentices over 25;
  • £32m to help 269,000 more people receive advice from the National Careers Service;
  • £101 million for school/college leavers to study high value courses when there are not employment opportunities available to them.

Over the course of this Parliament, we are also providing £2.5 billion (£3 billion when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations) for a new National Skills Fund to help people learn new skills and prepare for the economy of the future.

We are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) (£1.34bn in 2019/20 and 2020/21). We will continue to explore options within adult education and will be making decisions on where we may be able to introduce flexibilities to aid the Post-Covid recovery.

In areas where we have devolved the AEB, it is for Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) / Greater London Authority (GLA) to determine funding arrangements for adult education for their residents. We do, however, appreciate the importance of sharing, and where appropriate, co-ordinating, responses to attempt to ensure that providers, of all types, do not have their funding disrupted as a result of COVID-19. We are continuing to keep MCAs and the GLA updated on our skills response to COVID-19 through weekly conversations.

Devolving the AEB enables MCAs to directly support adults in developing the skills that local employers need, reducing skills shortages, boosting productivity and economic prosperity, and improving wellbeing in communities.

Within the AEB funding formula we pay a disadvantage uplift to provide extra funding to support the most disadvantaged learners, recognising that they are sometimes more costly to recruit and retain. The uplift is based on the learner’s post code and results in a funding increase for learners living in the most deprived areas of the country, as measured by the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015. There is also an area cost uplift within the AEB funding formula which reflects the higher cost of delivering training provision in some parts of the country, such as London and the South East.

We fund education and training for 16 to 19 year olds through the National Funding Formula which includes extra funding for disadvantaged students. This funding is provided to institutions specifically for students with low prior attainment, or who live in the most disadvantaged areas. We also provide an area cost uplift to reflect the higher costs of delivering education in some parts of the country such as London and the South East.

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