On 19 December 2020 the Education Committee published its Third Report of Session 2019–21, A plan for an adult skills and lifelong learning revolution (HC 812). The Government’s response was received on 22 February 2021. The response is appended to this report.
In both responses, the Committee’s recommendations are shown in bold type, and the Government’s responses are shown in plain type.
1.The Education Committee published its report, ‘A plan for an adult skills and lifelong learning revolution’ on 16th December 2020. This document sets out the Government’s response to the Committee’s report. The Committee report did not number its recommendations to set them apart from the Committee’s conclusions but are identified by italic text in the report. The numbering of recommendations below is based on the order they appear in the report with the relevant paragraph number in the report outlined underneath in the response.
2.The Government welcomes the Education Committee report on adult skills and lifelong learning following its inquiry on 26 March 2020. We have considered the findings and recommendations of the report carefully and have responded to all the Committee’s recommendations below.
3.This Government is committed to build a strong offer for adults, and our adult skills system seeks to increase productivity, support employment, and promote social inclusion. Adults are a diverse group, with a variety of needs and motivations and our offer reflects this. Adult skills are key in supporting the economy and tackling disadvantage, and we fully understand that this is important now more than ever, as people live longer, technological changes shake up the jobs market and as we look to recover from the impacts of covid-19.
4.The Government recognises the economic, social, and wellbeing benefits of lifelong learning outlined in the Committee report, and in September 2020 the Prime Minister announced the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, which will help adults develop new skills and find new opportunities at every stage of their life.
5.Subsequently, we published ‘The Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth’ White Paper in January 2021, making it our mission to make sure everyone has the skills which allow them to get a good job. In this, we set out that through the Lifelong Loan Entitlement, we will provide individuals with a loan entitlement, equivalent to four years of post-18 education from 2025 to use over their lifetime. The Lifelong Loan Entitlement will deliver a major transformation in further and Higher Education (HE). It will create a more efficient and streamlined funding system, make it easier for students to navigate the options available and encourage provision to better meet the needs of people, employers and the economy.
6.As we address the challenges presented by covid-19, it is vital that we support adults, especially those working in sectors directly affected by covid-19, to attain the skills that will be needed in the economy of the future.
7.In response to covid-19, the Government has
i. Introduced the Plan for Jobs, which includes support for apprenticeships; traineeships; careers information, advice and guidance; and Sector Based Work Academy Programmes.
ii. Introduced the Skills Toolkit in April 2020 and expanded this in September 2020, offering over 70 courses which will help people stay in work or take up new opportunities.
iii. We are investing £2.5bn (£3 billion when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations) in the National Skills Fund. This is a significant investment and has the potential to deliver new opportunities to generations of adults who may have been previously left behind.
iv. From April 2021 and as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, we will be supporting any adult aged 24 and over who wants to achieve their first full level 3 qualification to access around 400 fully funded courses. We will be investing £95 million over the current Spending Review period for the level 3 adult offer. This will include giving providers the support they need to scale-up level 3 provision and meet the needs of learners as we build back better from the pandemic.
8.The Government is committed to removing barriers to adult skills and education. This includes through research and analysis into learner motivations and behaviour. Data is regularly published on gov.uk showing adult participation in learning and learner outcomes in the FE and Skills sector, including apprenticeships. Surveys, including the Labour Force Survey, Employer Skills Survey and Learning and Work Institute Participation in Learning Survey, capture participation in wider training. The insights from these and the comprehensive user engagement undertaken as part of the National Retraining Scheme, have produced a strong foundation for developing the National Skills Fund and other adult skills reforms. The Department will also be looking to address some of the participation challenges as part of a communications strategy to be delivered in 21–22.
9.The findings presented by the Committee and the evidence provided throughout the inquiry have been, and will continue to be, helpful in developing and delivering a sustainable, ‘future-proof’ adult landscape that will help everyone to get the skills they need at every stage in their lives.
4 including that funded by individuals and employers.