Last edited 19 May 2021

Queen's Speech 2021



[edit] Introduction

The Queen’s Speech is an annual event which sets out the Government’s agenda for the coming session, and outlines proposed policies and legislation.

The May 2021 legislative programme set out in the Queen’s Speech included plans to revolutionise skills and training opportunities through landmark reforms to support the nation’s recovery from the COVID pandemic.

[edit] Lifetime Skills Guarantee

The Lifetime Skills Guarantee was a central part of the Queen’s Speech, including new laws to create a post-16 and adult education and training system that will provide the skills that people need for jobs and opportunities throughout their lifetime.

The legislative measures include a transformation of the student loan system, a Skills Accelerator programme that involves employers as well as other quality/delivery initiatives for providers. This builds on action that includes the introduction of T-Level courses (equivalent to three A-levels) and access to free, job-relevant, intensive bootcamps.

[edit] Availability of courses

Some programmes are already in place, providing adults with access to local, free, job-relevant courses. Bootcamps offer training in areas such as green retrofitting, as well as longer, qualification-based courses in areas including engineering and construction.

Almost 400 free courses are available to adults without a full qualification at Level 3, ranging from engineering to healthcare to conservation, backed by £95 million in government funding. Work is also ongoing with businesses of all sizes to support them to offer more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities. The Government is offering cash incentives of £3,000 for each new apprentice employers take on until the end of September 2021.

[edit] Reaction

Whilst welcoming the Skills and Post 16 Education Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech, Andrew Eldred, ECA Director of Employment and Skills sounded a note of caution. He said, “The current uncertainty facing firms from many directions is the root cause of falling apprentice numbers. No amount of incentives will change employers’ minds if the outlook remains volatile... However, the ‘lifetime skills guarantee’ opens up another important option for employers looking to support skills development. Training routes for career changers or unqualified but experienced workers – which employers or individuals themselves have had to fund before – will now attract Government support.”

Eldred added, “A recovery in apprenticeship recruitment is vital if businesses are to benefit from new growth opportunities and competence requirements – but nurturing older candidates, including those switching jobs and sectors, is another crucial part of the mix.”

Eddie Tuttle, Director of Policy, External Affairs and Research at CIOB said, "Ensuring the construction industry has a steady supply of labour with the necessary skills continues to be a significant challenge. We believe that a jobs-led recovery focused on helping the UK meet its targets for improving air quality, lowering carbon emissions and improving energy efficiency through the retrofitting of the existing building stock is one such mechanism. We would like to see a detailed strategy from Government setting out how it plans to increase the numbers of young people joining overlooked sectors such as construction. We urge them to work with the sector to identify in-demand and future skills; whilst promoting accessibility, to make sure that the skills strategy interacts and complements other pieces of proposed legislation to ensure a holistic approach."

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