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Skills for Jobs

Volume 699: debated on Thursday 15 July 2021

Today, as the Government continue to build back better from the pandemic and begin the critical work of levelling up our country, the Department for Education is announcing the next steps towards delivering the ambitious reforms set out in the skills for jobs White Paper.

This includes announcing the skills accelerator trailblazer areas, a further expansion of skills bootcamps, publishing the national skills fund consultation, and launching a consultation seeking views on simplifying funding for adult skills and strengthening the accountability of colleges.

These reforms will help to put employers at the heart of the system, making sure people have the skills they need to get good jobs in the areas our economy needs. They will also ensure people have the opportunity to train, retrain and upskill at any stage, while empowering and enabling providers to deliver these reforms.

Skills accelerator

The skills accelerator programme will give employers a central role working with colleges, other providers, and local stakeholders to shape technical skills provision so that it meets labour market needs. It establishes partnerships led by employer representative bodies, developing local skills improvement plans that will drive investment in the skills sector.

We are now taking the next step towards delivering the skills accelerator, by announcing 18 development fund pilot areas, of which eight will also be local skills improvement plan trailblazer areas. Details can be accessed here at Skills Accelerator, trailblazers and pilots - GOV.UK ('>'>'>

The new employer-led plans will ensure that technical education and training is well-aligned to what employers need. Ultimately, this will support learners to develop the skills that will enable them to get a well-paid and secure job, no matter where they live, and in the sectors that are critical to our future economic success.

Members of the pilot development fund collaborations will deliver their proposals, which will enable and enhance strategic partnerships between employers and post-16 providers, and test how these alliances will help shape future technical skills provision.

Skills bootcamps expansion

Since the Prime Minister set out his vision for the lifetime skills guarantee last year, the free courses for jobs and skills bootcamps have been helping adults to gain valuable skills that employers need. Both these adult skills offers are funded through the national skills fund, a long term, substantial investment of £2.5 billion to drive adult retraining at the advanced and higher technical skills levels the nation needs.

The national skills fund has successfully delivered the first wave of skills bootcamps and we are pleased to announce the next wave of this exciting, transformational programme, this expansion will roll out more in-demand skills to approximately 16,000 adults by the end of March 2022.

These innovative, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks will continue to give adults aged 19 and over the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. These skills bootcamps cover a wide range of digital, technical and construction skills, including software development, data analytics, construction site management and retrofitting.

We are expanding the skills bootcamps so they are available to adults across the country and registration for the first of these is open now, with more becoming available over the coming weeks. Details are available here at Free courses for jobs - GOV.UK ('>'>'>

National skills fund consultation

Through the national skills fund, we are already delivering the free courses for jobs offer which provides adults across England with the opportunity to achieve their first full level 3 qualification by giving access to around 400 fully funded courses. While free courses for jobs and skills bootcamps are already enabling thousands of adults to gain valuable skills, we know there is much more to do and the potential for what we could do through the fund is great.

That is why today we are launching a national consultation to help us ensure that we use national skills fund investment effectively to meet the skills needs of adults and employers to the end of this Parliament.

We are keen to hear from a wide range of stakeholders in response to the consultation, as it presents stakeholders with an excellent opportunity to feed back on the free courses for jobs and skills bootcamps which are already being funded through national skills fund investment. The consultation also requests views on meeting critical skills needs to help us ensure we deliver valued skills that will help us build back better.

The consultation closes on the 17 September and can be accessed via National Skills Fund - GOV.UK ('>'>'>

Funding and accountability consultation

Today we are also launching a consultation seeking views on simplifying funding for adult skills and strengthening the accountability of colleges. This consultation delivers a key commitment of the skills for jobs White Paper. The proposed changes aim to:

make sure colleges and other providers are better supported to focus on helping their students into good jobs employers are recruiting for, now and in the future;

reduce the complexity of adult funding through the skills fund;

define clearer roles and responsibilities for Ofsted and the Further Education Commissioner. The consultation closes on 7 October and can be accessed via Reforms to further education (FE) funding and accountability - GOV.UK (


Today's announcements are key milestones in the delivery of our ambitious skills for jobs reform programme which will transform the whole skills system so that we can train the dynamic and flexible workforce needed to rebuild our economy, build back greener, and compete globally.