As a former maths teacher catering mostly to adult learners, I firmly believe in the importance of lifelong learning. I have seen the life-changing results of adult education and will always support such programmes. However, it is vital we spend taxpayers money in the most effective way and ensure that funds are producing the results they set out to achieve. At the moment, the Fund fails to deliver on these results and so the Government is redirecting the money to more thorough and successful schemes.
Funding for the Union Learning Fund will cease in March 2021 with capital redirected elsewhere to support investment in skills and further education. I can assure you that every penny of the funding provided will be reinvested into further education, skills and retraining.
One of the key reforms will be the introduction of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee. Under the Guarantee, adults without an A-Level or equivalent qualification will be offered a free, fully-funded college course at a time and location of their choice. The economy has incurred substantial change as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and I am pleased that Ministers have responded by developing a long-term skills plan to ensure that as work changes, people can retrain, upskill and find new, well-paid jobs.
A new online learning platform 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.
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-online-learning).
I hope that the above has demonstrated my dedication to adult learning. It is not the case that we are scrapping the fund, but rather using the resources in a better way to support adult learners.