The Government has announced landmark reforms that will transform post-16 education and training. The aim is to boost skills across the country, helping people get into work and reshaping how training is delivered with a greater emphasis on skills needed by employers.
The government’s new Skills for Jobs White Paper follows on from the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee which was announced last year, giving all adults without an A-level equivalent qualification the opportunity to get new skills or retrain, fully funded by Government.
Building on this, the latest announcement will see business groups much more involved in further education, ensuring the skills young people leave education with are those which they need to enter the workplace, as well as boosting the quality and uptake of Higher Technical Qualifications.
The new scheme will allow for business groups and Chambers of Commerce to work alongside providers like Burnley College to develop tailored skills. This will be supported by a £65 million Strategic Development Fund to put the plans into action and establish new College Business Centres to drive innovation and enhanced collaboration with employers.
Flexibility is also being built into the reforms, ensuring that young people and those retraining can continue to upskill and learn throughout their working lives. It will include a Lifelong Loan Entitlement, making it easier for people to study in a way that works for them and flexible student finance which can be used to access more modular learning too.
Meanwhile, Skills Bootcamps - free, flexible courses of just 12-16 weeks - are giving adults the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer.
Welcoming the changes local MP Antony Higginbotham said,
The measures announced today will put an end to the illusion that a degree is the only route to success and a good job, and ensure we are giving people the skills needed in the 21st century.
They allow us to supercharge the education provided by the likes of Burnley College, realigning the whole system around the needs of employers and significantly boosting job prospects. It will mean that school leavers and those wishing to change careers have the skills needed for fast growing sectors like clean energy and modern ways of manufacturing, as well as construction where we know there is a skills gap.
This drive to place employers at the heart of the skills system comes as the Prime Minister launches a new Build Back Better Business Council. The new group will see business leaders work directly with government to fuel the Covid-19 economic recovery.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
Our Lifetime Skills Guarantee means that everyone will be given the chance to get the skills they need, right from the very start of their career.
In the years ahead, the reforms we have announced today will deliver high quality technical education across the country – and help people retrain and secure better paid jobs.
That way when we have beaten Covid-19 we can put rocket boosters under our recovery and Build Back Better.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
Our reforms to post-16 education will focus on the skills people and business need for our economy to grow. As we recover from the pandemic, our Lifetime Skills Guarantee will ensure everyone has the confidence and opportunity to gain the skills they need to progress at any stage of their lives.
These reforms are at the heart of our plans to build back better, ensuring all technical education and training is based on what employers want and need, whilst providing individuals with the training they need to get a well-paid and secure job, no matter where they live, and in the sectors that are critical to our future economic success.