Following on from the Prime Minister’s ‘Lifetime Skills Guarantee‘, the inclusion of new measures for upskilling in today’s Queen’s Speech focuses on education and training for older teenagers and adults.
The new Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, to be introduced on the 18th May, is among a series of over 25 new bills, and includes a new “flexible loan” from the government for part-time or full-time higher education and training at a university or college, which can be used at “any point in their lives”.
Employers, meanwhile, are set to have a statutory role going forward in planning publicly-funded training programmes with education providers through a “Skills Accelerator” programme.
Additionally, the new bill gives the education secretary more powers to intervene in colleges that fail to meet local needs, and direct structural change to ensure improvements are made.
In response to the announcement in today’s Queen’s Speech, Agata Nowakowska, area vice-president EMEA at Skillsoft, commented: “Over the past year, Coronavirus has shaken the economy from causing redundancies to disrupting careers across many sectors. For many, investment in skills support will be key to addressing both the disruption in the UK labour market, as well as the growing digital skills gap.
“Research from CBI revealed that businesses, government and individuals need to increase spending on adult education by £130bn by 2030 if they are to narrow the skills gap.
“Last year, the government launched a Kickstart Scheme to help organisations employ young people and take on apprentices. This has been key to helping address the skills gap faced in the UK and help young people take advantage of the opportunities in the tech sector.
“With digital transformation encroaching on all industries, the announcement today promising a skills “revolution” for England, with loans for adults wanting to retrain and more powers to deal with failing colleges, is very much welcomed. This is a vital step in growing the skills of tomorrow as well as supporting the UK economy to build back up after a year of turmoil.”
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Alex Cresswell, CEO of Thales UK, also weighed in on the release of the new bill in the Queen’s Speech, stating: “It’s great to see such a commitment from the Government towards upskilling across the entire country.
“With a footprint in all four nations, Thales has been able to have long lasting success by drawing on talent and skills across the country, bringing high tech jobs that drive balanced, sustainable growth to local communities.
“A key focus must be in levelling up the UK’s digital and technological investment. Digital and technological adoption has been accelerated as a result of the pandemic and it’s shown people can work from anywhere. By investing in digital and technology, local businesses can increase the scope of their operations and, in turn, encourage local talent to stay in the area.
“The UK has the opportunity to truly level up across the board and make itself stronger, but digital investment must be at the heart of it.”