To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Association of Colleges survey Colleges Week SME Leader Survey, published on 16 October; and what steps they are taking to ensure that SMEs have the resources to reskill their workforces.
27 October 2020
The government offers a variety of programmes and resources that businesses of all sizes can utilise in order to train their staff, in addition to the in-house training programmes that employers provide.
Adult skills are key in supporting the economy and tackling disadvantage and so we are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) (£1.34bn in the 2020/21 financial year). The principal purpose of the AEB is to engage adults and provide the skills and learning they need to equip them for work, an apprenticeship or further learning. This includes fully funded courses in English and maths, for adults who need to improve their literacy and numeracy, fully funded first full level 2 and/or level 3 for learners aged 19 to 23 and from 1 August 2020, fully funded specified digital skills qualifications for adults with no/low digital skills. The AEB also funds learning in the workplace, where a learner has a statutory entitlement to full funding.
Employers can offer apprenticeships to both new recruits and existing staff, supporting the creation of new jobs as well as opportunities to upskill. They can choose between more than 580 apprenticeship standards that have been designed by employers to deliver the skills they need.
The government is also providing £2.5 billion (£3 billion when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations), for the National Skills Fund.
The fund aims to boost productivity and ensure more people and places can share in the rewards that improved productivity can bring. It also presents a great opportunity to create a more coherent and simpler system that learners, providers, local areas and employers can more easily understand and navigate.
My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, recently announced that for adults who do not currently have a level 3 qualification, the government will be fully funding their first full level 3 through the National Skills Fund. We will target this level 3 entitlement at subjects and qualifications with economic value and the strongest alignment with government priorities, to ensure the best possible returns for individuals, employers and the nation.
The Prime Minister also announced the launch of our new digital bootcamps, in 6 areas, to support local regions and employers to fill in-demand vacancies. The bootcamp training courses will provide valuable skills based on employer demand and will offer a fast track to a job interview on completion. Pending the success of the initial bootcamps, we are planning to expand the digital bootcamps to more of the country from Spring 2021 and we also want to extend this model to include other technical skills training.
Further plans for the National Skills Fund will be communicated in due course.