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Queen’s Speech: PM to revolutionise skills and training opportunities

The UK Government’s new legislative programme will be unveiled in the Queen’s Speech today.

The government said that landmark reforms will support the nation’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, building on the progress made so far to level up the country and ensure equal opportunities for all.

The Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee will be a central part of the Queen’s Speech.

This will see new laws create a post-16 and adult education and training system that is fit for the future, providing the skills that people need for well-paid jobs and opportunities to train throughout their lifetime.

The legislative measures include:

  • Enabling a new student finance system to transform the current student loans system, which will give every adult access to a flexible loan for higher-level education and training at university or college, useable at any point in their lives.
  • Employers will have a statutory role in planning publicly-funded training programmes with education providers, through a ‘Skills Accelerator’ programme.
  • The Secretary of State for Education will be given more powers to intervene in colleges that fail to meet local needs and to direct structural change where needed to ensure the provider improves.

These build on the action already underway to ‘revolutionise’ the skills and training offer across the country, including the introduction of new T Level courses and access to free, job-relevant ‘bootcamp’ courses.

The Prime Minister outlined his vision for change in skills provision in a speech last year, in which he made clear that the 50% of young people who do not go to university have been historically deprived of the chance to find their vocation and develop a fulfilling, well-paid career.

Commenting, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said: “These new laws are the rocket fuel that we need to level up this country and ensure equal opportunities for all. We know that having the right skills and training is the route to better, well-paid jobs.

“I’m revolutionising the system so we can move past the outdated notion that there is only one route up the career ladder and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to retrain or upskill at any point in their lives.”

The government will introduce the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill on 18 May to deliver the Prime Minister’s vision and forms the legislative underpinning for the reforms set out in the Skills White Paper.

According to the government, the challenges of the last year highlight the need to rethink and rebuild, bringing both skills and education system closer to the employer market and widening the opportunities available, as the UK builds back better from the pandemic.

Figures show that a third of working-age undergraduates are not in highly skilled employment and in 2019, employers were unable to fill a quarter of their vacancies due to a lack of employees with the right skills.

Commenting, Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson said: “As we rebuild from the pandemic, we’ve put reforming post-16 education and skills at the heart of our plans to build back better and as Education Secretary, I have championed the often forgotten 50% of young people who don’t go to university.

“Through legislation, our vision is to transform the sector and expand opportunity right across the country, so that more people can get the skills they need to get good jobs.”

PSE will be hosting a Learning & Development in the Public Sector event on 9 June. Join us for the full day event by registering here.

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