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Lifetime Skills Guarantee

Volume 685: debated on Wednesday 9 December 2020

In his announcement about the Lifetime Skills Guarantee in September, the Prime Minister set out his vision to transform the training and skills system for the 21st century economy and help the country to build back better from the coronavirus pandemic. As a country, and as a Government, we believe passionately that everyone should be helped to reach their potential, and that opportunities to do so, across a lifetime, must be increased. Today I am pleased to be able to update both Houses on key steps we are taking to deliver the Lifetime Skills Guarantee through a major extension to the level 3 entitlement for adults, which will be funded from the National Skills Fund.

Now more than ever we need to ensure adults can upskill and retrain, to support the immediate economic recovery and to boost the nation’s skills with the expertise employers need, which is a key part of the Government’s plan for jobs. It is also vital that we deliver for the large number of adults who do not go straight from school to university.

The National Skills Fund is a long-term, substantial investment of £2.5 billion—£3 billion including devolved Administrations—which will drive adult retraining and support our ambitious agenda for reform of further education. It is essential that adults reap the benefits of our reform through a skills system that meets their needs along with the needs of employers across the nation.

Starting from April 2021, any adult looking to achieve their first full level 3— which is equivalent to a technical certificate or diploma, or two full A-levels—will be able to access a fully funded course. This will give them new skills and greater prospects in the labour market. We will ensure that if they choose to study a short course this will not prevent them from taking a further course. We plan to spend £95 million on this important new commitment in year one. This will include a funding uplift for qualifications included in this offer, to support providers to scale up their level 3 provision for adults and meet the needs of learners as we build back better from the pandemic.

It is important that this is a truly national offer, and we must ensure that all learners can access this valuable training regardless of where they live. We are working closely with providers and local areas, including the mayoral combined authorities and Greater London Authority, to ensure this national offer is delivered effectively across the nation and that funding is targeted at valuable subjects that are a key priority for the nation.

We have identified a range of qualifications that will meet current and future skills needs across the nation, and have engaged with business representatives, local areas and education and training providers on the development of the qualifications list. We have focused on provision that ensures good returns for individuals, employers and the economy, as well as those most critical skill areas.

We will keep the course list under regular review to ensure it adapts to the changing needs of the economy. Adults accessing this new level 3 adult offer can do so in the confidence that they will be gaining skills that are valued by employers and will help them secure a better job that may have previously been out of reach. There will be a facility for awarding organisations and local areas to suggest additions to the list.

The courses on offer will deliver a wide range of skills that will open the door to many jobs and sectors. Qualifications in these sector subject areas will help individuals access new jobs and, in many cases, earn higher wages too. From April we will be offering access to qualifications to support the following areas:


Building and Construction

Manufacturing Technologies

Transportation Operations and Maintenance

Business Management

Public Services

Accounting and Finance

Medicine and Dentistry

Horticulture and Forestry

Health and Social Care

ICT Practitioners

ICT for Users

Mathematics and Statistics



Nursing and Vocations and Subjects Allied to Medicine

Child Development and Wellbeing

Environmental conservation

Teaching and lecturing

Warehousing and distribution

We will continue to build on our wider plans for adult skills and I will update the House on our progress in due course. In the meantime, we will continue to engage closely with stakeholders as we progress and develop detailed plans for the National Skills Fund, including our consultation planned for spring next year.