The Education Secretary- Gavin Williamson- recently made a statement to the Commons on Post 16 adult education.
One of the more notable announcements he made was to add further detail on the Government’s Lifetime skills guarantee, first announced by the Prime Minister last Tuesday. This policy announcement comes in the context of the Chancellor’s recent statement where he said “it may not possible to save every job”. Instead the Government will offer all adults in the UK the chance to upskill or reskill and earn qualifications, equivalent to A-level, which will equip them with the skills they need to find employment to suit the future economy.
He also promised a complete transformation in how our post-18 education system is funded and promised that funding would soon be available on the same terms for FE as it is currently for HE. As part of this, every adult will soon be entitled to a flexible lifelong loan entitlement of 4 years of post-18 education, for both FE and HE courses. Most notably, the ambition is that these courses will be available on a flexible basis allowing for part time study and, crucially, the ability to study in short segments which will be transferable between any education provider. This will allow people to upskill at the same time as working a part time job or perhaps caring for a relative. It’s inevitable that this new layer of flexibility will increase engagement in education and lead to a more skilled and educated workforce of the future.
The Education Secretary also reiterated his support for the apprenticeship system. He promised the Government would expand the number of high quality apprenticeships available and connect them to local employers according the jobs available now as well as those anticipated in the future. This is something that our board member, Caroline Cowburn, called for last week in her editorial piece. He also promised extra support for those apprentices who had been made redundant because of the pandemic.
It was also announced that there will be 20 new Institutes of Technology set up. These will be employer led and bring together businesses, universities and colleges to provide state-of-the-art vocational and technical training. As with apprenticeships, the input of employers will be invaluable in targeting the course to equip students with the skills they need to complement the real life jobs market.
We warmly welcome these proposals and will follow the consultation process closely to ensure that social mobility remains front and centre of the Government’s approach. We particularly welcome the Government’s renewed commitment to its levelling up agenda which will ensure those red wall regions are finally getting the funding and the attention they deserve.