Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO at City & Guilds Group & Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee

Following the Government "Lifetime Skills Guarantee" announcement that adults in England without an A-level or equivalent will be offered a fully funded college course, Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO at City & Guilds Group, responds:

It’s pleasing to see the prime minister take on board some of our recent recommendations to help reskill adults and we broadly welcome the Government’s commitment to offering adults without A-Levels the opportunity to access fully funded courses. This is certainly a step in the right direction, however these measures still seem narrow in their scope and don’t contain the creative thinking needed to address vast skills and jobs challenges that lie ahead.

How is the provision going to be flexible enough for people to fit learning around their lives and responsibilities – whether that’s childcare, caring for a relative or a part time job? And, while the intention is that adults learn skills valued for employers, will the training courses on offer match up with the demand in the local area? A skills and training offer fit for today must include the option of digital learning with the focus being on the skills acquired rather than a qualification.

Meanwhile, if only those without an A-Level (or equivalent) qualification are eligible for this training, it completely overlooks huge swathes of the population who have been displaced from their industries this year and will need to completely retrain and change their skillsets now. And, while this will help social mobility, it can’t be a true lifelong skills solution if you’re only eligible once.

In our CSR submission [Reskilling Britain for a brighter future] we detail how skills funding could be better used to help people understand their transferable skills as well as the new skills needed to get back into work. While it’s currently unclear how much this latest Government intervention will cost, investing £65 million – or just under £1 per head – in a network of digitally enabled Employment and Training Hubs across the UK that provide meaningful, long-term support to stem unemployment would be much better value for money. We can’t wait until April for these interventions – this is our act now moment.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO at City & Guilds Group

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