PM announces new ‘Lifetime Skills Guarantee’

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has today announced a ‘Lifetime Skills Guarantee’ – which will mean that adults without an A level or equivalent qualification will be offered a free, fully-funded FE course.

The new scheme, which forms part of the government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda in response to Covid-19, will try and provide adults with "skills valued by employers", and the opportunity to study at a time and location that suits them.

Speaking from Exeter College in Devon, Boris Johnson said:

“All of us, in this country, need you to have those practical skills. We need those practical skills collectively as a society and as an economy more than ever.”

He also argued that reforms to FE and technical education are vital in ensuring the UK can ‘Build Back Better’ from the Coronavirus pandemic, stating: “We’ve got to end the pointless, nonsensical gulf that’s been fixed for generations… between the so called academic and the so called practical” forms of education.  

During the speech, the Prime Minister committed to a wide set of reforms. These included commitments to:

  • Give everyone a flexible, lifelong skills entitlement to four years of technical education
  • Upgrade FE colleges with capital investment
  • Expand apprenticeships and make them “portable”; thereby making it easier to get high quality apprenticeships which are connected to local employers
  • Fund free technical courses for adults, equivalent to A Level
  • Expand the government’s Digital Bootcamps
  • Expand and transform the funding system so it is “as easy to get a loan for a higher technical course as for a university degree”
  • Enable FE Colleges to access funding on the same terms as universities

David Gallagher, Chief Executive at NCFE, commented:

“At NCFE, we welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of a Lifetime Skills Guarantee. This is a positive step in the protection of the country’s workforce at a challenging time. We eagerly await further detail on the courses that will be funded, so we can support the Government’s ambition to help people to upskill and reach their full potential.

“The pandemic has already left unemployment at 4.1%, and there are huge challenges still to overcome as we begin to rebuild. It is vital that we do so with high quality FE options for people of all ages, so the government’s announcement is extremely timely. At NCFE we are working hard to understand the needs of learners, employers and communities and align our offer with economic and social priorities, at a national and local level. Our Go The Distance initiative, for example, is taking focused action on employment by supporting people to access high quality learning opportunities and achieve valuable outcomes - so it is encouraging to see a central commitment to this agenda.

“Alongside this important reform, it is crucial that there is adequate financial support for these learners. The Government should carefully consider what maintenance support is available to those who need it, across both the FE and HE sectors.”  

The Lifetime Skills Guarantee will be available from April next year across England and will be funded through the National Skills Fund.

The government will issue further information on which courses will be funded shortly.

For more information, see the official Government press statement here.