Adults without A-levels to be offered free college courses

The government has declared that anyone without an A-level or similar qualification will be eligible for a free college degree.

According to Downing Street, the offer would be accessible for people in England starting in April and will apply to courses that provide “skills prized by companies.”

Boris Johnson will use a speech on Tuesday to lay out his plan to make it easier for individuals to upskill at any point of their lives, amid fears of a dramatic increase in unemployment.

His pledge comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week, when unveiling his plan to support jobs after the furlough scheme is wound down next month, admitted not every job can be saved following the hit that Covid-19 has dealt the economy.

The prime minister said:

“As the Chancellor has said, we cannot, alas, save every job. What we can do is give people the skills to find and create new and better jobs. So my message today is that at every stage of your life, this Government will help you get the skills you need.”

Adults without an A-level or similar certification would be provided a free, fully funded college education to provide them with “skills prized by businesses,” according to Downing Street.

They will also be able to learn at a time and place that is convenient for them.

This offer will be accessible in England starting in April and will be funded by the National Skills Fund, which will be boosted by an additional £2.5 billion.

Number 10 has been verified, and a full list of offered courses will be revealed soon.

“We’re reforming the basis of the skills system so that everyone has the opportunity to train and retrain,” the Prime Minister is likely to say.

The government aims to make higher education loans more flexible as part of the reforms, allowing adults and young people to spread their studies out throughout their lives rather than doing it all in three to four-year chunks.

Ministers hope that the changes will allow aspiring students to enroll in more high-quality vocational courses at colleges and universities, as well as enabling people to retrain for “future occupations.”

These reforms will be bolstered by sustained investment in college buildings and infrastructure, with over £1.5 billion set aside for capital spending, according to No 10.

Apprenticeship opportunities will be expanded as part of the Prime Minister’s plan, with more funding for small and medium-sized businesses that hire apprentices and more flexibility in how their training is structured, particularly in construction and creative industries, the Government is expected to announce.

The CBI praised the government’s educational reforms as a “good start.”

“Retraining was already a vital priority for the UK,” said director general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn.

“The significant unemployment coronavirus is leaving in its wake only accelerates the need for people to develop new skills and adapt to new ways of working.

“The lifetime skills guarantee and flexible loans to support bitesize learning are a strong start. But to really shift gears, this must be backed up by meaningful progress on evolving the apprenticeship levy into a flexible skills levy.”


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