Major expansion of post-18 education and training to level up and prepare workers for post-Covid economy

Date published: 08 October 2020

Adults without an A-Level or equivalent qualification will be offered a free, fully-funded college course, the government has announced – providing them with new skills, 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 in the near future.

Higher education loans will also be made more flexible, allowing adults and young people to space out their study across their lifetimes, take more high-quality vocational courses in further education colleges and universities, and to support people to retrain for jobs of the future.

The government has said that these reforms will be backed by investment in college buildings and facilities – including over £1.5 billion in capital funding. More details will be set out in a further education white paper later this year.

The scheme has been welcomed by Conservative MP Chris Clarkson, and welcomed in principal by Labour MP Tony Lloyd.


Tony Lloyd MP
Tony Lloyd MP


Mr Lloyd, MP for Rochdale, said: “We know that the skills deficit is real. Too many people in the work force have been left undertrained or untrained. We've got to do something about that, so a genuine lifetime skills guarantee will be welcomed.  

“The difficulty is one of the government's credibility and whether they are prepared to make the funding available, and this in the light of the massive underfunding of vocational training and further education over years of austerity.

“The second is one of timing. Unemployment is rising in Rochdale and round the country, here and now. It's not good enough to have schemes in the future. People losing their jobs need hope. But all the evidence says that the longer people spend out of work, the harder it is for them to get back into meaningful training, or even into work at all.  

“So, a general welcome. But it's the detail that will decide whether this is just a piece of political showboating or a real policy determined to make a difference.”


Chris Clarkson MP
Chris Clarkson MP


Chris Clarkson, MP for Heywood and Middleton, said: “I am pleased that this scheme has been created to help in the plan to Build Back Better across the country.”

“As the Chancellor has said, we sadly cannot save every job. This is why I welcome this announcement by the Prime Minister, developing a long-term plan to ensure that, as the nature of work changes, people here have access to gain the skills they need to find and create new and better jobs.”

“In the coming weeks I will be meeting with our local Further Education providers and when I do I will be discussing the ways in which the new Lifetime Skills Guarantee will help them provide more access to education and retraining for local people.”

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