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Skills package offers people new ways to train and retrain

Government has expanded the Skills Toolkit and committed to making higher education more flexible to facilitate lifelong learning.

Today (29 September), the Prime Minister will announce a major expansion of post-18 education and training as will look to strengthening the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19 by prioritising jobs and skills.

The Prime Minister has previously said Government will do “absolutely everything” it can to get people back into jobs. techUK is pleased to see Government has taken this opportunity to rebalance what skills training looks like across the country to tackle current and future digital skills challenges.

The announcement will outline:

  • 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.
  • 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. This offer will be available from April in England and will be paid for through the National Skills Fund. A full list of available courses will be set out shortly.
  • Apprenticeship opportunities will also be increased, with more funding for SMEs taking on apprentices, and greater flexibility in how their training is structured – especially in sectors such as construction and creative industries where there are more varied employment patterns.
  • Commitment of £8m for digital skills boot camps; expanding successful pilots in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands and introducing programmes in four new locations. From next year, boot camps will be extended to sectors like construction and engineering.

Alongside the range of new policies being announced, the press notice below also includes the expansion of DfE’s online learning platform, The Skills Toolkit, to more than 70 courses in digital, numeracy and employability or work-readiness courses. The courses have been selected on the advice of experts and leading employers, including techUK, to make sure they meet the needs of business.

There is clear appetite across the UK to embrace the opportunity to learn skills, as individuals look to build a resilient and future-facing career. This motivation is clear from the large uptake in the use of digital technologies by businesses and individuals alike during the pandemic. Recent techUK polling showed that over half of GB adults aged 16-75 are interested in gaining digital skills with a huge 82% agreeing that ‘digital skills will become more important in the next 12 months’. The second iteration of The Skills Toolkit we hope will continue to build on this momentum.

techUK is passionate about ensuring everyone has access resources to improve their skills and retrain at any age and at all skill levels and we expect this initiative to be a great start on the journey to upskilling Britain. In particular, techUK has long advocated for reform of the apprenticeship levy to work effectively for apprentices and employers, and bite-sized modular learning—with the tech industry and our members offering such courses to allow for more flexible learning. Industry has already started upskilling Britain and this is the moment to join forces to create the workforce of tomorrow and help us build back better.

As we look to the sustainability of these policies, techUK will continue to engage with Government on the Digital Strategy, Further Education White Paper, expected later this year, and reform of the apprenticeship levy next Budget.

Commenting on the announcement, techUK’s CEO Julian David said:

“Throughout the Covid-19 crisis employers have continued to recruit people for digital roles and techUK has seen a huge increase in people looking to acquire new digital skills. The post-COVID economy will be more digital. Today’s announcement to massively expand the post-18 education landscape will help to deliver the short modular courses that will be necessary to help more people pivot to the jobs of tomorrow.

“techUK firmly believes that the success of the Digital Skills Toolkit lies in the fact that it allows for flexible learning, allowing learning to affordably fit in to our busy modern lives. Today’s announcement could revolutionise the world of lifelong learning, giving people the resources and ability to learn when they want, how they want.

“This could not come at a more opportune moment. techUK’s own research shows people want to develop their digital skills, and with new jobs created every day in our sector, this shake up of post-18 education could deliver the workforce of the future our digital economy needs.”

For press inquiries, please contact Alice Jackson.


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