To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to extend the training provided as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee to those who have a level three qualification and have been made redundant during the COVID-19 pandemic.
26 October 2020
The government is providing £2.5 billion (£3 billion when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations) for the National Skills Fund.
My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, as part of his Lifetime Skills Guarantee, recently announced that for adults who do not currently have a level 3 qualification, we will be fully funding their first full level 3, focusing on the valuable courses that will help them get ahead in the labour market. The offer will be funded from the National Skills Fund and offered from April 2021.
Adults, who already have a level 3 qualification, can access Advanced Learner Loans. Advanced Learner Loans are used by many thousands of adults each year to train and retrain at level 3 and above, and prior qualification levels are not a barrier to eligibility. Loans will continue to help remove one of the main barriers to learning (finding the means to pay up-front fees) where other sources of funding are not available (for example, due to prior qualification levels).
My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, also recently announced digital bootcamps to support local regions and employers to fill in-demand vacancies by providing valuable skills. Adults in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, and Liverpool City Region can now register their interest to take part in the digital bootcamps. In early 2021, the digital bootcamps will also be available in Leeds City Region, Heart of the South West, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. We are planning to expand the bootcamps to more of the country from Spring 2021 and we want to extend this model to include other technical skills training.
Further plans for the National Skills Fund will be announced in due course. Alongside the National Skills Fund, the department has been working to provide further support in response to the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. In his Summer Economic Update, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced investment of over £500 million to deliver a package of support for people to access the training and develop the skills they will need to go on to high-quality, secure and fulfilling employment. The Skills Recovery Package included:
- Apprenticeships: A new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire who is aged 24 or below and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire who is aged 25 and over, from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021.
- Traineeships: £111 million to triple the scale and reform traineeships for those aged 16 - 24 (25 with an Education, Health and Care plan), with additional funding available to providers in 2020-21 to support 30,000 new places. We have also introduced, for the first time, payments of £1,000 per trainee for employers who offer new or additional work placements (up to 10 trainees).
- Careers information, advice and guidance: £32 million over two years to help 269,000 more people of all ages receive advice from the National Careers Service.
- Sector-based work academy programme (SWAP): £17 million to triple the number of SWAP placements in 2020/21, enough funding to support an extra 40,000 job seekers with additional training opportunities and the chance of a job.
In addition, the recently announced expansion of The Skills Toolkit means that people can now choose from over 70 courses, covering digital, adult numeracy, employability and work readiness skills, which have been identified as the skills employers need the most. These courses will help people stay in work or take up new jobs and opportunities.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department for Work and Pensions has also established an alternative service to their usual face to face offer. People will be able to access redundancy help and job search advice on the DWP’s new Job Help campaign website. There is also information on gov.uk and updated information packs provided to employers to help them signpost employees to the support that is available. The support available includes:
- Connecting people to jobs in the labour market though our Find a Job website, virtual jobs fairs, Sector-based Work Academy Programmes and mentoring circle opportunities.
- Help with job search including CV writing, interview skills, where to find jobs and how to apply for them.
- Help to identify transferable skills and skills gaps (linked to the local labour market).
In addition to this, the new Kickstart scheme is underway. This is a £2 billion programme which will create thousands of new jobs for young people aged between 16-24 who will be offered six-month work placements with wages paid by the government.
The government appreciates the importance of adult education to improving people’s life chances. We will continue to explore options within adult education to aid the post COVID-19 recovery.