Christopher Whiteside MBE is a Conservative activist.
He has served as a County, City & District, Borough, Town and Parish councillor, and has also been a school governor and health authority member.
He lives and works in the North of England, particularly spending time in Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire.
The Lifetime Skills Guarantee
Today in a major speech the Prime Minister has set out a new plan to transform the provision of skills so that we can help people to retrain and find new, well-paid jobs as part of our agenda to Build Back Better.
To better reflect Britain's changing economy and the impact of the pandemic, the government is developing a long-term plan to ensure that, as the nature of work changes, people have the skills to find and create new and better jobs.
The new Lifetime Skills Guarantee will provide adults in England without an A-Level or equivalent qualifications from April the opportunity to take up a free, fully funded college course. Alongside this, we are also making higher education loans more flexible, allowing people to space out their study across their lifetimes and take more high-quality vocational courses.
Today the Conservative government is sending out the clear message that it will help people get the skills they need at every stage of their lives, and deliver on the promise to level up opportunity across the country.
Expanding post-18 education and training to level up and prepare workers for a post-Covid economy:
Offering a free and fully-funded college course to adults without an A-level or equivalent qualification – providing them with skills valued by employers, and the opportunity to study at a time and location that suits them. This offer will be available from April in England, and will be paid for through our National Skills Fund – one of our manifesto pledges. A full list of available courses will be set out shortly.
Making higher education loans more flexible – allowing adults and young people to choose the length and type of course that is right for them. This will allow them to take more high quality vocational courses in further education colleges and universities, and to support people to retrain for jobs of the future. We are committed to making higher education more flexible to facilitate lifelong learning – and will make it easier for people to break up their student into segments, transfer credits between colleges and universities and enable more part-time study.
Investing more in college buildings and facilities, helping to ensure colleges are excellent places for people to learn. This investment includes over £1.5 billion in capital funding, with more details to follow in a further education white paper later this year.
Extending our offer of training in a number of sectors, helping our country to build back better. We are committing £8 million for digital skills boot camps; expanding successful pilots in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands and introducing programmes in four new locations. From next year, boot camps will be extended to sectors like construction and engineering, helping the country build back better. Earlier this year, we also launched our free online Skills Toolkit, helping people train in digital and numeracy skills. This is being expanded today to include 62 additional courses.
This builds on the Plan for Jobs, which commits to supporting young people to find jobs:
Creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs for young people through a new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme, to give young people the best possible chance of getting a job. The scheme will directly pay businesses to create new, decent and high-quality jobs for any 16-24 year old at risk of long-term unemployment. Funding for each job will cover 100 per cent of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, for six months in total, plus an admin fee – for a grant of around £6,500 per placement.
Providing significant cash incentives for businesses to support people into work. We will pay businesses £1,000 to take on trainees, with £111 million to triple the scale of traineeships, which consist of work experience placements, training and work preparation for 16-24 year olds. We are also providing £2,000 to employers for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25, helping more people into the workplace while developing key skills, and £1,500 for any apprentice aged over 25.
Tripling the number of places available through Sector-Based Work Academies, supporting those who are out of work with an additional £17 million to provide the new skills they need to re-enter the jobs market.
Giving young people who have just left school the skills they need to find work in high-value sectors, such as engineering, construction and social care. We will provide £101 million to help 18 and 19 year olds to take high value courses at Levels 2 and 3 where work opportunities are not available.
Today’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee has been praised by major employers:
Microsoft said there are ‘no better investments in our future than the kinds of accessible, lifelong and flexible programmes that the Prime Minister has announced this morning’. ‘As a country we face multiple challenges, but we believe that learning unlocks opportunity. Today, more than ever, individuals, businesses and government must build the skills we need for tomorrow. Because if we fail to act now, the UK could easily be left behind in the global economy. There are no better investments in our future than the kinds of accessible, lifelong and flexible programmes that the Prime Minister has announced this morning’.
BAE Systems said ‘it is more important than ever that Government and industry work together to help young people and adults gain the skills needed to work in sectors which will support our nation’s economic recovery’. They added ‘As a major employer of graduates and apprentices, BAE Systems’ investment in skills provides an essential pipeline of talent that enables us to continue to deliver cutting-edge defence and security capabilities, essential to our national security’.
The CEO of Greene King welcomed the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee. ‘We welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of increased funding for skills and further education. As a business we are passionate about improving social mobility and developing the skills of the nation’s young people to ensure they are ready for work. That is why we invest heavily in apprenticeships, supporting over 12,500 since 2011’.
Citi said it ‘stands ready to play its part in delivering on the UK Government’s ambition to increase employability and transform the country’s training and skills system’. The CEO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Citi said ‘With digitisation accelerating throughout the economy, the UK needs to continue to develop a highly skilled and innovative workforce. Banks can play a critical role, and Citi looks forward to expanding the reach of its current apprenticeship programmes, including our recently-launched Data Academy and efforts to encourage former employees back into the workforce. Citi stands ready to play its part in delivering on the UK Government’s ambition to increase employability and transform the country’s training and skills system’.
Q: Why wait until April to provide these courses? The Chancellor set out earlier in the summer that from August to January, any firm that hires a new young apprentice aged 16 to 24 will receive £2,000, while those that hire new apprentices aged 25 and over will be paid £1,500. We’re also committing £8 million for digital skills boot camps.
Q: How much will this cost? Today’s transformation of the provision of skills will be paid for through the National Skills Fund we committed to in our Manifesto – £2.5 billion is being made available to help get people working again after covid, as well as giving those in work the chance to train for higher-skilled, better-paid jobs. It comes alongside continued investment in college buildings and facilities - including over £1.5 billion in capital funding.
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