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Skills Toolkit

Volume 675: debated on Tuesday 28 April 2020

Today I am launching “The Skills Toolkit”—a new online platform giving people access to free, top-quality digital and numeracy courses to help build up their skills, progress in work and boost their job prospects. The new platform enables anyone who would like to use it to grow these essential skills while they are staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives. The Skills Toolkit is a first step towards longer-term recovery, helping everyone start to build up the key skills we need.

Education and skills are key to opening up opportunities, no matter your background. The Skills Toolkit allows people to access free digital and numeracy training from some of our most prestigious learning institutions, including the Open University and the Institute for Coding. These are skills that everyone needs to thrive in the 21st century and ones that evidence suggests are increasingly in demand across almost all sectors and occupations. Our approach to designing and delivering The Skills Toolkit has been informed by experts in online learning and the courses available on the platform have been carefully selected following conversations with businesses and may be expanded at a later date.

The Skills Toolkit meets a range of needs and is open to everyone—irrespective of age, employment status or current skill level. From a bite-sized course to improve your PowerPoint skills to digital marketing and coding. The courses available support both furloughed workers who want to learn new skills and those who are currently out of work and looking to quickly build up their CV with valuable skills for a new job. Equally, the learning is there for anyone else who is keen to challenge themselves or keep their mind healthy and busy during time spent at home.

The Skills Toolkit offers employers—who are also facing unprecedented challenges—a positive offer to support and develop furloughed employees who are interested in learning from home.

We know the current situation has made home life extremely difficult for many people, and I realise that learning of any type—online or otherwise—may be far from the minds of some people at this point in time. For people who can find the time, however, learning is known to benefit mental health and wellbeing, improving self-esteem, and giving an improved sense of purpose and control. The flexible nature of the offer, which includes short, online courses that can be completed at any pace or time of the day, means that there is something available for everyone when the right time comes. I am hoping that giving the nation a taster of flexible, online learning will help drive a step-change in the way in which we all develop our skills throughout our working lives.

I want to thank all of those training providers who have made these free courses so widely available to the public. It is wonderful to see a fantastic range of organisations including firms and not-for-profit providers contributing to this effort.

The Skills Toolkit is available from today on: I urge all Members to use it and to recommend it to their constituents and to local employers so that they can encourage their furloughed workers to grab the opportunity to build skills and discover new talents.