In his announcement about the Lifetime Skills Guarantee in September, the Prime Minister set out his vision to transform the training and skills system for the 21st century economy and help the country to build back better from the coronavirus pandemic. As a country, and as a government, we believe passionately that everyone should be helped to reach their potential, and that opportunities to do so, across a lifetime, must be increased. Today I am pleased to be able to update both Houses on key steps we are taking to deliver the Lifetime Skills Guarantee through a major extension to the Level 3 entitlement for adults, which will be funded from the National Skills Fund.
Now more than ever we need to ensure adults can upskill and retrain, to support the immediate economic recovery and to boost the nation’s skills with the expertise employers need, which is a key part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs. It is also vital that we deliver for the large number of adults who do not go straight from school to university.
The National Skills Fund is a long term, substantial investment of £2.5bn (£3bn including devolved administrations) which will drive adult retraining and support our ambitious agenda for reform to Further Education. It is essential that adults reap the benefits of our reform through a skills system that meets their needs along with the needs of employers across the nation.
Starting from April 2021 any adult looking to achieve their first full Level 3 (which is equivalent to a technical certificate or diploma, or two full A levels) will be able to access a fully funded course. This will give them new skills and greater prospects in the labour market. We will ensure that, if they choose to study a short course this will not prevent them from taking a further course. We plan to spend £95 million on this important new commitment in year one. This will include a funding uplift for qualifications included in this offer, to support providers to scale up their level 3 provision for adults and meet the needs of learners as we build back better from the pandemic.
It is important that this is a truly national offer, and we must ensure that all learners can access this valuable training regardless of where they live. We are working closely with providers and local areas, including the Mayoral Combined Authorities and Greater London Authority, to ensure this national offer is delivered effectively across the nation and that funding is targeted at valuable subjects that are a key priority for the nation.
We have identified a range of qualifications that will meet current and future skills needs across the nation, and have engaged with business representatives, local areas and education and training providers on the development of the qualifications list. We have focused on provision that ensures good returns for individuals, employers and the economy, as well as those most critical skill areas.
We will keep the course list under regular review to ensure it adapts to the changing needs of the economy. Adults accessing this new level 3 adult offer can do so in the confidence that they will be gaining skills that are valued by employers and will help them secure a better job that may have previously been out of reach. There will be a facility for Awarding Organisations and local areas to suggest additions to the list.
The courses on offer will deliver a wide range of skills that will open the door to many jobs and sectors. Qualifications in these sector subject areas will help individuals access new jobs and, in many cases, earn higher wages too. From April we will be offering access to qualifications to support the following areas:
- Building and Construction
- Manufacturing Technologies
- Transportation Operations and Maintenance
- Business Management
- Public Services
- Accounting and Finance
- Medicine and Dentistry
- Horticulture and Forestry
- Health and Social Care
- ICT Practitioners
- ICT for Users
- Mathematics and Statistics
- Nursing and Vocations and Subjects Allied to Medicine
- Child Development and Wellbeing
- Environmental conservation
- Teaching and lecturing
- Warehousing and distribution
We will continue to build on our wider plans for adult skills and I will update the House on our progress in due course. In the meantime, we will continue to engage closely with stakeholders as we progress and develop detailed plans for the National Skills Fund, including our consultation planned for spring next year.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords