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Written Question
Training: Standards
19 Jul 2021

Questioner: Lord Aberdare (CB - Excepted Hereditary)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to improve communication at a (1) local, and (2) national, level about best practices in the delivery of adult skills.

Answered by Baroness Berridge

The steps being taken to improve communication at a local and national level about best practices in the delivery of adult skills were outlined in the white paper, Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth, published in January 2021: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/skills-for-jobs-lifelong-learning-for-opportunity-and-growth.

We are trailblazing new employer-led Local Skills Improvement Plans in a small number of areas in the 2021-22 financial year. They will be created by employer representative bodies working closely with further education colleges, other providers and key local stakeholders and will set out the key changes needed in a local area to make technical skills training more responsive to employers’ skills needs. Alongside the trailblazers, we are legislating to put Local Skills Improvement Plans on a statutory footing as part of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill.

Local Skills Improvement Plans will provide a framework to help colleges and other providers reshape what they offer, to tackle skills mismatches and ensure that they are responding as effectively as possible to labour market skills needs. We will also make development funding available in the 2021-22 financial year in a number of pilot areas to support colleges to reshape their provision to address local priorities that have been agreed with local employers.

We will reform our funding and accountability systems to better support providers in their role. To this end, The Skills for Jobs: A New Further Education Funding and Accountability System Government Consultation was published on 15 July 2021: https://consult.education.gov.uk/fe-funding/reforms-to-funding-and-accountability/. This consultation proposes a range of steps to improve communication at local and national level about effective skills delivery:

  • Specifying the outcomes we expect through a new published Performance Dashboard
  • Introducing a new skills measure that will feature in the dashboard and capture how well local and national skills needs are met
  • Exploring an enhanced role for Ofsted to inspect how well local and national skills needs are met
  • Enabling the Further Education Commissioner to enhance its existing leadership role, with a renewed focus on driving improvement and championing excellence in colleges

Written Question
Lifelong Education: Learning Disability
19 Jul 2021

Questioner: Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown (DUP - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what additional measures they intend to take to ensure life-long learning is available for those with severe learning difficulties.

Answered by Baroness Berridge

The government believes that students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) must get the support that they need to benefit from the Lifetime Skills Guarantee (LSG).

Preparing all young people with SEND for adulthood is a key part of the SEND system and should begin from the earliest point. Colleges have a duty to use their best endeavours to secure the special educational provision that the young person needs, regardless of whether students have an education, health and care plan.

We believe that our measures in the Skills for Jobs Bill will support those with SEND. The cross-government SEND review, which is currently underway, will consider how children and young people with SEND can be supported effectively. We will continue to work closely with the SEND sector and system leaders at pace over the coming months, to ensure we are in a strong position to publish proposals for public consultation as soon as possible.

The adult education budget supports the delivery of flexible tailored provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3 qualifications. The provision is either fully or co-funded, depending on the learner’s age, prior attainment, and circumstances, and helps learners to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship or further learning. Under the LSG, the government is now supporting any adult (aged 19 and above) who does not have A levels or equivalent qualifications, to access around 400 fully funded level 3 courses, with free courses for jobs. Complementing this, skills bootcamps offer free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. Both offers are funded through the National Skills Fund. We will be launching a consultation on the fund in due course to ensure that we use this investment to help adults, including those with protected characteristics, to gain the valuable skills they need to improve their job prospects.

Finally, the Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE), will be introduced from 2025, providing individuals with a loan entitlement to the equivalent of four years of post-18 education to use over their lifetime. We believe students with SEND must get the support that they need to benefit from the LLE. The government has not yet determined what form this support will take, and plan to use our consultation this year to build our evidence base on how people with protected characteristics might access or benefit from the LLE offer. We do not want to prejudge the information we receive and outcome of the consultation.


Written Question
Lifetime Skills Guarantee
29 Apr 2021

Questioner: Lord Watson of Invergowrie (LAB - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of the number of work-based qualifications included in their proposed Lifetime Skills Guarantee, announced on 29 September 2020.

Answered by Baroness Berridge

The Lifetime Skills Guarantee, which my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, announced last September, promises to help people across England to develop the skills that they need at every stage of their life as we build back better from the COVID-19 outbreak.

This includes the free courses for jobs offer as well as skills bootcamps, the Lifelong Loan Entitlement and improvements to quality and access for apprenticeships.

The free courses for jobs offer gives an estimated 11 million adults in England who are 24 and over, and do not yet have A levels or equivalent qualifications, the opportunity to take their first level 3 qualification for free. This offer is a long-term commitment, backed by £95 million from the National Skills Fund in year one.

Complementing this, skills bootcamps offer free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. Skills bootcamps have the potential to transform the skills landscape for adults and employers.

Work-based learning is not currently an element of the free courses for jobs or skills bootcamps offers. However, as we build on these investments, we will soon launch a consultation to further develop the National Skills Fund to ensure that it delivers a step change in adult learning, preparing adults for the economy of the future.

The Lifelong Loan Entitlement will be introduced from 2025, providing individuals with a loan entitlement to the equivalent of four years of post-18 education to use over their lifetime. It will make it easier for people to do courses locally and to study and train part-time, acquiring the skills that can transform their lives. We will be consulting on the detail and scope of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement this year, working closely with employers and learners to fully understand their needs.


Written Question
Education and Vocational Guidance: Travellers
29 Mar 2021

Questioner: Baroness Whitaker (LAB - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their white paper Skills for jobs: lifelong learning for opportunity and growth, published on 21 January, what steps they are taking (1) to ensure equality of opportunities for Gypsy, Traveller and Roma children and young people of compulsory education age who are out of school or not in education, employment or training to gain the Maths and English Level 2 qualifications required to access further education and training, including apprenticeships, and (2) to ensure that careers advice and guidance is accessible to Gypsy, Traveller and Roma students who have missed out on schooling; and what plans they have to ensure that all Government-backed careers advisors receive training on Gypsy, Traveller and Roma culture.

Answered by Baroness Berridge

The participation age has been raised so that young people are now required to continue in education or training until their 18th birthday. Young people can do this through full-time education, a job or volunteering combined with part-time study, or by undertaking an apprenticeship or traineeship. The government has invested nearly £7 billion during the academic year 2020/21, to ensure there is a place in education or training for every 16 to 19 year old.

Local authorities have a statutory duty to identify and track the participation of 16 and 17 year olds, supporting those who are not participating to do so and making sure that there is sufficient and suitable education and training provision to meet their needs.

The September Guarantee places a further duty on local authorities to ensure that all year 11 pupils (and year 12 pupils on one year courses) receive an offer of a place in education or training for the following September. It aims to ensure that all young people, regardless of what they achieved in school, understand that there are opportunities that will help them to progress, and to ensure that they get the advice and support they need to find a suitable place.

A range of provision is available for young people aged 16 to 24 to equip them with the skills and experience they need to progress. This includes traineeships, which provide unemployed young people with employability training, work experience and English and maths, and Supported Internships which offer tailored support for young people aged 16 to 25 who have special educational needs and disabilities.

We know students who leave school with a good grasp of English and maths increase their chances of securing a job or going on to further education, which is why students who do not achieve a GCSE grade 4 at age 16 must continue to study these subjects in Post-16 (it is also known as the ‘condition of funding’). Students who just missed out on a GCSE grade 4 are given the opportunity to achieve a GCSE. We recognise that for students with prior attainment of a GCSE grade 2 or below, a level 2 Functional Skills qualification may be more appropriate.

Alongside this, English and maths are crucial elements of a T Level and apprenticeship. Each T Level student and apprentice must ensure they have achieved a prescribed level of English and maths in order to successfully complete their programme.

The government is committed to ensuring that young people and adults are provided with high-quality careers information, advice, and guidance, regardless of their background.

We have provided specific support for pupils from disadvantaged groups such as Gypsy, Traveller and Roma, special educational needs, and looked after children. This includes investing over £1.7 million to test new approaches to broaden aspirations and raise awareness of pathways into training and work.

Our statutory guidance, first introduced in September 2012, requires that schools secure independent and impartial careers guidance on the full range of education and training options.

Members of the careers profession, including careers advisers are trained to give impartial careers, information, advice and guidance. They work closely with school leaders to develop careers plans that reflect a pupil’s personal circumstance. They also take into account a pupil’s background and aspirations when giving them impartial careers advice. We will continue working with members of the careers profession, including the Careers Development Institute, to ensure careers advisers and other professionals receive adequate training to enable them to deal with pupils from all backgrounds, including those from the traveller community.


Written Question
Females: Education
1 Mar 2021

Questioner: Jim Shannon (DUP - Strangford)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to support women to access education to help their return to the labour market.

Answered by Gillian Keegan

As we address the challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak and prepare to seize the opportunities offered up by leaving the EU, it is vital that we support adults, irrespective of gender, to attain the skills that will be needed in the economy of the future. We recently published the white paper, Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth, focusing on giving people the skills they need so they can get great jobs in sectors the economy needs and boost this country’s productivity.

Starting this year, the government is investing £2.5 billion, rising to £3 billion when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations, in the National Skills Fund (NSF). This is a significant investment and has the potential to deliver new opportunities to generations of adults who may have been previously left behind, or who need to reskill and retrain. My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer also announced £375 million for the NSF at the Spending Review in November 2020, further information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/spending-review-2020. This includes £95 million funding for a new Level 3 adult offer and £43 million for Skills Bootcamps. Investment in skills through the NSF is vital, ensuring adults have the opportunity to progress into higher wage employment and to support those who need to retrain at different points throughout their lives.

From April 2021, we will be supporting any adult aged 24 and over who wants to achieve their first full Level 3 qualification – equivalent to two A-levels, or an advanced technical certificate or diploma – to access nearly 400 fully funded courses. Alongside the Level 3 adult offer, Skills Bootcamps offer free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. We are seeing a demand for digital and technical Skills Bootcamps across many sectors and industries, including healthcare, where take up is higher amongst women than men. We have also introduced bootcamps that specifically aim to support women to access training in a range of digital and technical qualifications, including subjects known to be traditionally “male-dominated”. For example, the Software Engineering Academy for women in the West Midlands is designed to prepare women for careers in software engineering.

Through our lifelong loan entitlement, we will also make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly. This will allow them to space out their studies across their lifetimes, transfer credits between colleges and universities, and enable more part-time study.

We are also investing £1.34 billion in the 2020/21 academic year through the adult education budget (AEB), which will provide education and skills training for adults. The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to Level 3, helping them gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship or further learning.

Last year we introduced the Skills Toolkit, an online platform providing free courses to help individuals build the skills that are most sought after by employers. We have recently expanded the platform so 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 July last year, the Plan for Jobs was announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which includes incentives for employers to take on new apprentices, including those over 25, and an additional £17 million to increase the number of sector-based work academy programme placements in the 2020/21 academic year.


Written Question
Students: Loans
22 Feb 2021

Questioner: Emma Hardy (LAB - Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of making Advanced Learner Loans available for (a) part-time and (b) modular higher education courses.

Answered by Michelle Donelan

The government recognises the importance of studying flexibly and the benefits it can bring to individuals, employers and the wider economy.

We have made changes to support part-time undergraduate students and mature students. Since September 2012, eligible students undertaking part-time undergraduate courses have been able to apply for up-front tuition fee loans to meet the full costs of their tuition. Students starting to attend part-time degree level courses since August 2018 have also been able to access full-time equivalent loans as a contribution towards their living costs.

Advanced Learner Loans provide fees support for designated further education courses at advanced and higher levels, including levels 4 to 6. Those courses may be studied at an intensity decided by the student and institution. Fees are determined by the course subject and guided learning hours.

However, we need to take more radical steps to support lifelong learning. This is why my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, announced that we will introduce a flexible Lifelong Loan Entitlement equivalent to four years of post-18 education. The loan entitlement will be for modules at higher technical and degree levels (levels 4 to 6), as well as for full years of study. It will make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly, allowing them to space out their studies, transfer credits between institutions, and partake in more part-time study. We will consult on the detail and scope of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement this year, setting out proposals for how and when it will be introduced.

As recently set out in the Skills for Jobs white paper, while it is our intention that the Lifelong Loan Entitlement will ultimately be the primary route of funding for advanced technical and degree levels (levels 4 to 6), including modular provision, in the 2021/22 financial year we intend to fund trials of modular high-quality technical provision. This will stimulate demand and supply and improve our understanding of what works in delivering effective modular provision ahead of the introduction of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement.

We will continue to look at what other short-term changes could be helpful to ensure that we are continuously building towards the Lifelong Loan Entitlement, ensuring that we take advantage of any available opportunities to test and learn prior to its introduction.


Written Question
Department for Education: Staff
16 Feb 2021

Questioner: Lord Watson of Invergowrie (LAB - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their White Paper Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth, published on 21 January, whether they have appointed a bill team to work on the primary legislation they intend to introduce to implement the reforms to the further education and technical training system; if so, how many staff have been appointed; and what is the duration of the contracts of any such staff.

Answered by Baroness Berridge

The department is aware that legislation may be needed to deliver some of the ambitious reforms set out in our White Paper and have recently been recruiting a Bill team to lead this work. When fully staffed, the team will comprise 6 officials, who will work with other colleagues across the department. Recent appointments to the team have been fixed term until the end of August 2022.


Written Question
Training: Unemployed People
25 Jan 2021

Questioner: Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of funding for education and skills provision to help unemployed people; and what recent discussions they have had, if any, about that funding.

Answered by Baroness Berridge

The department wants to ensure that a wide range of opportunities are available to people of all ages. Anyone who becomes unemployed for whatever reason can access a range of provision to meet their future skills needs, and funding for this will depend on age and prior attainment.

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) (£1.34 billion in the 2020/21 academic year). The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to Level 3, to support adults to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship or further learning and training up to Level 2 for unemployed people aged 19 and over.

In July, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced a £500 million package of support to ensure young people can access the training, and develop the skills they will need, to go on to high-quality, secure, and fulfilling employment including: incentive payments for employers to take on apprentices; tripling the number of traineeships; and an additional £17 million in the 2020/21 financial year to support an increase in the number of sector-based work academy programme placements. This additional funding will enable unemployed individuals acquire the skills needed for local 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.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced £375 million for the National Skills Fund at the Spending Review in November 2020. This includes £95 million funding for a new Level 3 adult offer and £43 million for Skills Bootcamps, as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

From April 2021, any adult aged 24 and over who is looking to achieve their first full Level 3, which is equivalent to an advanced technical certificate or diploma, or two full A levels, will be able to access a fully funded course which will give them new skills and greater prospects in the labour market. Currently, adults between the ages of 19 to 23 are eligible for full funding for their first full Level 3. This offer will ensure that adults aged 24 and over are now able to access their first full, fully funded, Level 3 qualification.

We have also introduced the Skills Bootcamps, which are free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. Skills Bootcamps have the potential to transform the skills landscape for adults and employers.

The Skills Bootcamps are open to all adults aged 19 or over, who are either in work or recently unemployed. Further to this, we have now opened an Invitation to Tender to extend Skills Bootcamps to more areas, and to cover not only digital skills but also technical skills training including engineering and construction. 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 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.

Also, as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, has announced a lifelong loan entitlement. This will make is easier for all adults to study more flexibly, allowing them to space out their studies across their lifetimes, transfer credits between colleges and universities, and enable more part-time study.


Written Question
Further Education
22 Jan 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of Winchester (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they plan to publish the Further Education White Paper.

Answered by Baroness Berridge

We published the White Paper Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth on 21 January 2021.


Written Question
Pre-school Education: Coronavirus
15 Jan 2021

Questioner: Caroline Lucas (GRN - Brighton, Pavilion)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will provide funding to enable private early years nurseries to close to all but vulnerable children and those of key workers during the national lockdown.

Answered by Vicky Ford

On 4 January 2021, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, announced all early years settings will remain open to all children despite the national lockdown and will continue to allow all children to attend full time or their usual timetable hours. This includes early years registered nurseries and childminders, maintained nursery schools and nursery classes in schools and other pre-reception provision on school sites. Only vulnerable children and children of critical workers should attend on-site reception classes.

Early years settings have been open to all children since 1 June 2020 and current evidence suggests that pre-school children (0 to 5 years of age) are less susceptible to infection and are unlikely to be playing a driving role in transmission.

Early years settings were one of the first sectors to have restrictions lifted last summer, in recognition of the key role they play in society. Childminders and nursery staff across the country have worked hard to keep settings open through the COVID-19 outbreak so that young children can be educated, and parents can work. The earliest years are the most crucial point of child development and attending early education lays the foundation for lifelong learning and supports children’s social and emotional development. We continue to prioritise keeping early years settings open in full because of the clear benefits to children’s education and wellbeing and to support working parents. Caring for the youngest age group is not something that can be done remotely.

The national lockdown announced by the Prime Minister on 4 January 2021 means the number of children attending childcare will be lower even though early years settings may welcome all children.

Under these arrangements local authorities should ensure that providers are not penalised for short-term absences of children (for example sickness, arriving late or leaving early, or a family emergency) through withdrawing funding but use their discretion where absence is recurring or for extended periods, taking into account the reason for the absence and the impact on the provider.

We stay in regular contact with the early years sector and have heard from them already on this subject. We publish regular official statistics on attendance in early years settings here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak. This will next be updated on 19 January 2021. We will be closely monitoring both parental take-up of places and the capacity and responses of providers and will keep the need for further action under constant review.


Written Question
Adult Education: Coronavirus
14 Jan 2021

Questioner: Kate Osamor (LAB - Edmonton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the role of adult education in supporting individuals back into work after the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered by Gillian Keegan

As we address the challenges presented by COVID-19 and prepare to seize the opportunities offered up by leaving the European Union, it is vital that we support adults, including those working in sectors directly affected by COVID-19, to attain the skills that will be needed in the economy of the future.

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.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced £375 million for the national skills fund at the Spending Review in November 2020. This includes £95 million funding for a new level 3 adult offer and £43 million for skills bootcamps. Investment in skills through the national skills fund is vital, ensuring adults have the opportunity to progress into higher wage employment and to support those who need to retrain at different points throughout their lives.

From April 2021, we will be supporting any adult aged 24 and over who wants to achieve their first full Level 3 qualification – equivalent to two A-Levels, or a technical certificate or diploma – to access nearly 400 fully funded courses.

Complementing the Level 3 adult offer, the skills bootcamps offer free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. skills bootcamps have the potential to transform the skills landscape for adults and employers.

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.

Through our lifelong loan entitlement, we will also make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly. This will allow them to space out their studies across their lifetimes, transfer credits between colleges and universities, and enable more part-time study.

We are also continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the adult education budget (AEB) (£1.34 billion in 2020/21). The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to Level 3, to support adults to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship or further learning.

In April we introduced the skills toolkit, an online platform providing free courses to help individuals build the skills that are most sought after by employers. We have recently expanded the platform so 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 July last year the Plan for Jobs was announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which includes incentives for employers to take on new apprentices, including those over 25, and an additional £17 million to increase the number of Sector-based work academy programme placements in 2020/21.


Written Question
Adult Education: Coronavirus
25 Nov 2020

Questioner: Stuart Anderson (CON - Wolverhampton South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that people have access to flexible adult learning courses during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered by Gillian Keegan

The Department wants to ensure that a wide range of opportunities are available to adults to meet their future skills needs.

We are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB), worth £1.34 billion in the 2020-21 financial year. The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3, to support adults to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship, or further learning. Our funding rules allow for flexibility in course delivery, and providers already offer shorter/more flexible courses. More information about the AEB is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/adult-education-budget-aeb-funding-rules-2019-to-2020.

As part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee recently announced by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, the department is launching skills bootcamps, which will be available in 6 areas across the country. The bootcamp training courses will provide valuable skills based on employer demand and are linked to real job opportunities, helping participants to get jobs, and employers to fill much-needed vacancies. The department is 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. More information about the launch of skills bootcamps is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/major-expansion-of-post-18-education-and-training-to-level-up-and-prepare-workers-for-post-covid-economy.

In April 2020, the department introduced the Skills Toolkit, an online platform providing free courses to help individuals build the skills that are most sought after by employers. We have recently expanded the platform so 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. More information about the Skills Toolkit is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-free-online-learning-platform-to-boost-workplace-skills.

Through our lifelong loan entitlement, the department will also make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly. This will allow people to space out their studies across their lifetimes, transfer credits between colleges and universities, and enable more part-time study.


Written Question
Union Learning Fund
24 Nov 2020

Questioner: Sarah Olney (LDEM - Richmond Park)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the economic merits of the Union Learning Fund.

Answered by Gillian Keegan

The department wants to ensure that a wide range of opportunities are available to people of all ages to meet their future skills needs.

We are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB), worth £1.34 billion in the 2020/21 financial year. The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3, to support adults to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship, or further learning. This includes; full funding for learners who need English and maths skills to undertake a range of courses in GCSEs; functional skills and other relevant qualifications from entry level to level 2; and support through courses and qualifications at pre-entry, entry level 1 to 3, level 1 and level 2 for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

More information about the AEB is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/adult-education-budget-aeb-funding-rules-2019-to-2020.

The department has also introduced a number of additional measures this year as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, such as through the Plan for Jobs announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in July 2020, and the Lifetime Skills Guarantee announced by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, in September. More information about the Plan for Jobs is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/a-plan-for-jobs-2020.

The Lifetime Skills Guarantee is aimed at eligible adults, including those that have become unemployed. As part of this, adults who do not currently have a level 3 qualification will be fully funded for their first full level 3 course, enabling participants to access the valuable courses that will help them get ahead in the labour market. This offer will be funded from the National Skills Funding, established to help people learn new skills and prepare for the economy of the future. More information about the National Skills Funding, and other measures to help prepare adults for the economy of the future, is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/major-expansion-of-post-18-education-and-training-to-level-up-and-prepare-workers-for-post-covid-economy.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, has also announced skills bootcamps, which will be available in 6 areas across the country. The bootcamp training courses will provide valuable skills based on employer demand and are linked to real job opportunities, helping participants to get jobs, and employers to fill much-needed vacancies. 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.

In addition, the recent 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.

Through our lifelong loan entitlement, we will also make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly. This will allow them to space out their studies across their lifetime, transfer credits between colleges and universities, and enable more part-time study.

Apprenticeship opportunities will also be increased, with more funding for small and medium sized enterprises taking on apprentices, and greater flexibility in how their training is structured.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, regularly meets with the Chancellor of the Exchequer but has not done so specifically to discuss the Union Learning Fund.


Written Question
Training: Coronavirus
24 Nov 2020

Questioner: Sarah Olney (LDEM - Richmond Park)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 9 November 2020 to Question 110928 on Union Learning Fund: Coronavirus, what additional steps his Department is taking to support adults who (a) need to reskill because of the covid-19 outbreak and (b) do not have have essential qualifications.

Answered by Gillian Keegan

The department wants to ensure that a wide range of opportunities are available to people of all ages to meet their future skills needs.

We are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB), worth £1.34 billion in the 2020/21 financial year. The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3, to support adults to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship, or further learning. This includes; full funding for learners who need English and maths skills to undertake a range of courses in GCSEs; functional skills and other relevant qualifications from entry level to level 2; and support through courses and qualifications at pre-entry, entry level 1 to 3, level 1 and level 2 for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

More information about the AEB is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/adult-education-budget-aeb-funding-rules-2019-to-2020.

The department has also introduced a number of additional measures this year as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, such as through the Plan for Jobs announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in July 2020, and the Lifetime Skills Guarantee announced by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, in September. More information about the Plan for Jobs is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/a-plan-for-jobs-2020.

The Lifetime Skills Guarantee is aimed at eligible adults, including those that have become unemployed. As part of this, adults who do not currently have a level 3 qualification will be fully funded for their first full level 3 course, enabling participants to access the valuable courses that will help them get ahead in the labour market. This offer will be funded from the National Skills Funding, established to help people learn new skills and prepare for the economy of the future. More information about the National Skills Funding, and other measures to help prepare adults for the economy of the future, is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/major-expansion-of-post-18-education-and-training-to-level-up-and-prepare-workers-for-post-covid-economy.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, has also announced skills bootcamps, which will be available in 6 areas across the country. The bootcamp training courses will provide valuable skills based on employer demand and are linked to real job opportunities, helping participants to get jobs, and employers to fill much-needed vacancies. 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.

In addition, the recent 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.

Through our lifelong loan entitlement, we will also make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly. This will allow them to space out their studies across their lifetime, transfer credits between colleges and universities, and enable more part-time study.

Apprenticeship opportunities will also be increased, with more funding for small and medium sized enterprises taking on apprentices, and greater flexibility in how their training is structured.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, regularly meets with the Chancellor of the Exchequer but has not done so specifically to discuss the Union Learning Fund.


Written Question
Adult Education: Finance
3 Nov 2020

Questioner: Lord Taylor of Warwick (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Confederation of British Industry Learning for life: Funding a world-class adult education system, published on 19 October.

Answered by Baroness Berridge

The key theme of the report mirrors our own assessment of the need for reskilling and the importance of adult education. We have introduced or announced a range of policies to help boost adult education.

To help boost apprenticeship opportunities, we are supporting employers to invest in the skilled workforce they need to recover and grow by offering £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and £1,500 for those aged 25 and over, in recognition of the value apprentices of any age can bring to businesses and to our economic recovery.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister recently announced a new lifetime skills guarantee that will help support adults across the country to make lifelong learning a reality - opening doors for more people to realise their talents, develop new skills and get better jobs.

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. This entitlement will be targeted at areas with high economic value and the strongest alignment with government priorities, to ensure the best possible returns for individuals, employers and the nation.

New digital bootcamps, in 6 areas, will 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. We also want to extend this model to include other technical skills training.

A Lifelong Loan Entitlement, which will provide individuals with an entitlement to 4 years of loan funding to use over their lifetime. The entitlement could be used for modules of a course, as well as full years of study. We will be consulting on the Lifelong Loan Entitlement in due course and will bring in legislation later in the Parliament as necessary.

This is on top of the already announced £2.5 billion (£3 billion when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations), for the National Skills Fund to help adults learn valuable skills and prepare for the economy of the future. It 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. Further plans for the National Skills Fund will be communicated in due course.

We are also continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) (£1.34 billion in the 2020/21 academic year). The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3, to support adults to gain the skills they need 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 fully funded specified digital skills qualifications for adults with no/low digital skills.