New legislation reforming further and adult education will be “rocket fuel” in the levelling-up agenda, prime minister Boris Johnson has said.
Ahead of the Queen’s Speech tomorrow, the prime minister said he was “revolutionising” the adult education and training system.
Downing Street said the promise of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee would be central to government plans as Parliament rebuilds the nation after the pandemic.
Queen’s Speech: Major focus on FE and lifelong learning
Skills for Jobs White Paper: What does it propose?
Number 10 said the new laws would create a post-16 and adult education and training system that was “fit for the future”.
An adult education system 'fit for the future'
Fresh legislation will seek to transform the student loan system to give every adult access to a flexible loan for higher-level education and training at university or college.
In January, the Department for Education set out its plans for reform of the further education sector with the Skills for Jobs White Paper.
Ahead of the Queen's Speech, Mr Johnson said: “These new laws are the rocket fuel that we need to level up this country and ensure equal opportunities for all. We know that having the right skills and training is the route to better, well-paid jobs.
“I’m revolutionising the system so we can move past the outdated notion that there is only one route up the career ladder, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to retrain or upskill at any point in their lives.”
Other proposals include giving employers a statutory role in planning publicly funded training programmes through a “skills accelerator” programme.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson will also be given greater powers to intervene in colleges seen as failing to meet local needs.
Association of Colleges: FE 'needs fair and sustainable funding'
David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: "The prime minister and secretary of state have shown their commitment to colleges. We now need this to be met with ambitious and wide-reaching legislation in Parliament, and fair and sustainable funding from the chancellor.
"This is the first Queen’s Speech since the pandemic began so I am delighted that further education is right at the heart of it because colleges are rooted in their communities and will be central in supporting people and places to recover. This new bill recognises how vital colleges are to economic recovery and the government’s levelling-up agenda. Colleges showed their worth in the pandemic and they know how to deliver on this and stand ready, with the funding, to step up and show that once again.
"Everybody agrees that people should have access to training and reskilling throughout their lives – the shifting of the economy, post-pandemic, is highlighting yet again just why it is so important for people to be able to access training to move into new jobs and new sectors. While the Lifetime Skills Guarantee has the potential to open up these opportunities, it will only work if people can afford to live whilst studying, through a mixture of loans, grants and welfare support. Without this, many simply won’t be able to afford it."