Skills and Lifelong Learning policy in Westminster yesterday

There were parliamentary announcements about Adult Skills and Lifelong Learning yesterday (29 September) at the Education Select Committee and with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speech in Exeter. See the details:

·       Expansion of post-18 education and training Press Release (GOV.UK)

·       Prime Minister’s Skills Speech Transcript (GOV.UK)

·       Watch the 29 September Education Select Committee meeting online – Adult skills and lifelong learning with Gillian Keegan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills (parliamentlive.tv) – transcript should be available soon

Selected highlights:

  • Lifetime Skills Guarantee to give adults the chance to take free college courses valued by employers
  • New entitlement to flexible loans to allow courses to be taken in segments, boosting opportunities to retrain and enhancing the nation’s technical skills

From April adults without an A-Level or equivalent qualification will be offered a free, fully-funded college course – providing them with skills valued by employers, and the opportunity to study at a time and location that suits them. Eligible courses to be announced.

· Digital Skills boot camps are being expanded from successful pilots in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands to support the Industrial Strategy.

·  The Government’s free online Skills Toolkit is being expanded to include 62 more courses.

The Education Select Committee was meeting as part of their Adult skills and lifelong learning inquiry to hear evidence from Gillian Keegan MP and as well as today’s announcements focused on:

·  Adult and Community Learning

·  Flexible loans and their repayments

·  Quality IAG for young people and adults

It was a virtual meeting so you can catch up with the whole lot online on the link above. There weren’t many technical problems so it runs quite smoothly.

TES has picked up on the discussion on the complication of adult education funding which will be addressed in a forthcoming white paper.

The Prime Minister’s speech also included:

·  “we are putting £1.5 billion into upgrading and improving colleges across the country, fixing the leaky ceilings, bringing forward £200 million this year.” (previously announced July 2020)

·       “I can announce today that we will be expanding apprenticeships, reforming the system so that unspent funds can be used more easily to support apprenticeships not just in big companies, but in the SMEs where there is so much potential for job creation.”

·       “We will give FE colleges access to the main student finance system, so that they are better able to compete with universities; not for every FE course, but for a specific list of valuable and mainly technical courses to be agreed with employers.”

· “We’ll give everyone a flexible lifelong loan entitlement to four years of post-18 education — so adults will be able to retrain with high level technical courses, instead of being trapped in unemployment.