UNION LEARNING FUND
Thank you for contacting me about the Union Learning Fund.
Funding for the Union Learning Fund will cease in March 2021 with capital redirected elsewhere to support investment in skills and further education. I think it is right that Ministers regularly review how skills and training are funded, to make sure taxpayers’ money is invested as efficiently as possible and I can assure you that every penny of the funding provided will be reinvested into further education, skills and retraining.
Ministers are committed to ‘levelling up’ across the whole of the UK and have emphasised the importance of skills and training to the fulfilment of this ambition. The Prime Minister has set out a series of reforms to ensure everyone can get the skills they need. These reforms will be backed by continued investment in college buildings and facilities – including over £1.5 billion in capital funding to ensure the further education estate is fit for purpose.
One of the key reforms will be the introduction of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee. Under the Guarantee, from April adults over the age of 24 without an A-Level or equivalent qualification will be offered a free, fully-funded college course at a time and location of their choice. Further details, including the list of almost 400 fully funded courses included in this offer, can be found here - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-skills-fund
Extensive guidance is also available online via the National Careers Service website to help individuals find free online learning courses across a variety of disciplines. (https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/find-a-course/where-to-find-free… ).
There is also a new online learning platform that has also been launched to help people upskill during the Coronavirus pandemic. ‘The Skills Toolkit’ will provide free digital and numeracy courses to boost job prospects in this challenging time. The toolkit places particular emphasis on the skills that businesses need and I am pleased that the CBI and BT, among others, have welcomed the Prime Minister’s commitment.
The economy has incurred substantial change as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and I am pleased that Ministers have now published the Further Education White Paper. It will make sure people can get the education and training they need to get great jobs, and employers can fill the skills gaps they currently face, boosting our productivity and improving our international competitiveness.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.