UK to ‘Revolutionise’ Adult Education to Boost Post-Pandemic Recovery: Johnson

May 11, 2021 Updated: May 11, 2021

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he will “revolutionise” the UK’s education system by providing older teenagers and adults with lifetime skills training.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to bring the skills and education system “closer to the employer market” and widen the opportunities that are available for all, Downing Street said.

The “Lifetime Skills Guarantee” is part of the government’s new legislative programme, which was unveiled in the Queen’s Speech during the State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday.

In a statement, Johnson said: “These new laws are the rocket fuel that we need to level up this country and ensure equal opportunities for all. We know that having the right skills and training is the route to better, well-paid jobs.

“I’m revolutionising the system so we can move past the outdated notion that there is only one route up the career ladder, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to retrain or upskill at any point in their lives.”

Under the proposed measures, the student loans system will be revamped to allow every adult access to a flexible loan for higher-level education and training at university or college, useable at any point in their lives.

A new “Skills Accelerator” programme will allow employers to plan publicly-funded training programmes with education providers.

The education secretary will be given more powers to intervene in colleges that fail to meet local needs and to direct structural change where needed to ensure the provider improves.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said, “As we rebuild from the pandemic, we’ve put reforming post-16 education and skills at the heart of our plans to build back better, and as education secretary I have championed the often forgotten 50 percent of young people who don’t go to university.

“Through legislation, our vision is to transform the sector and expand opportunity right across the country, so that more people can get the skills they need to get good jobs.”

Association of Colleges chief executive David Hughes said the announcement is an “important step on the journey to ending the snobbery around technical and vocational education” after a “decade of neglect and cuts” under the Tories.

He also warned that the skills guarantee will only be successful if students can afford to live while studying through a “mixture of loans, grants, and welfare support.” He added, “Without this, many simply won’t be able to afford it.”

PA contributed to this report.