On Tuesday last week, the Prime Minister visited Exeter where he announced in a major speech, plans to transform the provision of skills so that more people can retrain and find new, well-paid jobs as we Build Back Better from the Coronavirus Pandemic.
I have always been a strong advocate for apprenticeships and the skills agenda. When I was a student, I studied at Cornwall College between 1987 and 1990 for a BTEC National Certificate in Business Studies and then after that a City and Guilds in Agricultural Management. I have always looked back fondly on my time at Cornwall College and valued the skills that I learnt at the college.
The College has a deep-rooted history in our area and has been at the heart of all further and higher education in Cornwall for the last 80 years or so. It is a vital local asset delivering work-based learning in our area. Until recently there were around 800 apprentices currently training in areas such as plumbing, carpentry and engineering.
Colleges and higher education providers such as Cornwall College will be vital to people’s prospects and chances as a result of the changing economy and the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Work is changing, and it is important that people develop the skills they need to create new and better jobs.
As part of the plans, the government will rapidly expand post-18 education and training. From April adults without an A-Level or qualification will be able to take up the chance of a free and fully funded college course, paid for through the National Skills Fund with the list of available courses to be published shortly.
Further to this, education loans will be made more flexible – allowing adults and young people to choose the length and type of course that is right for them allowing them to take more high-quality vocational courses and to support them to retrain for jobs of the future. But if we’re to encourage more people to pursue a skills-based education then it is important that they have access to the best facilities, and therefore the government are investing over £1.5 billion in capital funding so that our colleges are excellent places for people to learn.
Businesses will also be encouraged to support more apprentices with the government paying 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 know that there is more that can be done and central to this work will be making apprenticeship training work better alongside modern and flexible working practices in construction and the creative industries so that more examples are available.
Further details of the government’s plans will be announced in the months ahead but providing people with the ability to gain the skills they need may be transformational in the years to come.