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National Skills Fund

Question for Department for Education

UIN 134016, tabled on 6 January 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to increase funding in retrofit skills as part of the Government’s National Skills Fund.

Answered on

18 January 2021

The new Green Jobs Taskforce, which was launched on 12 November 2020, has been set up to help the UK build back greener and deliver the skilled workforce needed to reach net zero emissions by 2050. This is a joint initiative between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Education. Working with employers and relevant stakeholders, the Taskforce will develop an action plan to support 2 million good-quality, green jobs and the skills needed by 2030, supporting the UK to transition to a net zero economy and deliver a green recovery.

The Taskforce, which also includes members from the construction and retrofit sectors such as the Construction Industry Training Board and Retrofit Works, will represent views of businesses, employees and the skills sector. Involvement in this work will not be limited only to Taskforce members, and there will be opportunities for a wider set of stakeholders, including the private sector, to contribute.

Investment from the National Skills Fund will support the government’s commitment to green jobs. Starting this year, the government is investing £2.5 billion (£3 billion, when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations) in the National Skills Fund. This is a significant investment and has the potential to deliver new opportunities to generations of adults who may have been previously left behind.

From the National Skills Fund, we are investing £95 million over the current spending review period to support any adult aged 24 and over who want to achieve their first full level 3 qualification – equivalent to 2 A levels, or a technical certificate or diploma – to access nearly 400 fully funded courses. The offer includes a range of qualifications that are valuable across the economy in multiple sectors (for example, digital skills, accountancy and engineering skills).

There are specific qualifications included on the course list which will contribute to developing retrofitting skills (for example, a diploma in Installing Electrotechnical Systems and Equipment or a diploma in Engineering Construction Lifting, Positioning and Installing Structures, Plant and Equipment).

Through the National Skills Fund we have also introduced the Skills Bootcamps, which are free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving adults aged 19 and over the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer.

From April 2021 we are investing a further £43 million through the National Skills Fund to support this expansion of Skills Bootcamps in England. This will enable us to assist employers across England to fill their in-demand vacancies and we anticipate training upwards of 25,000 individuals. The Bootcamps were initially focused on digital skills but are now being expanded to also cover technical skills training, including engineering and construction.

The training undertaken by adults completing relevant Skills Bootcamps courses can help adults gain the skills required to work towards further training and employment in retrofitting. Furthermore, education providers and employers can put forward bids as part of our technical skills bootcamps to establish a bootcamp with the aim of training people in retrofit skills.

These level 3 and Skills Bootcamps offers will be followed by other investments from the National Skills Fund over the course of this Parliament. The government plans to consult on the National Skills Fund in spring 2021 to ensure that we develop a fund that helps adults learn valuable skills and prepares them for the economy of the future.