On 12 March 2021, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan MP, responded to a written question on funding for digital skills.
The question, asked by Chi Onwurah MP, Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, inquired as to what proportion of the £138 million in funding for technical courses for adults will be spent on increasing digital skills.
Keegan’s answer can be read in full below:
Digital Technology: Training
Department for Education
12 March 2021
Chi Onwurah (Lab): To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of the £138 million in funding for technical courses for adults will be spent on increasing digital skills.
Gillian Keegan (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State): The government will invest £138 million to fund in-demand technical courses for adults, and to expand the employer-led bootcamp training model, in high value areas such as digital and technical skills.
The £138 million investment will come from the £2.5 billion National Skills Fund (NSF) and will include £95 million funding for a new level 3 adult offer and £43 million for Skills Bootcamps. Investment in skills through the NSF is vital, ensuring adults have the opportunity to progress into higher wage employment and to support those who need the opportunity to retrain at different points throughout their lives.
The level 3 adult offer, available from this April, will support any adult aged 24 and over, who wants to achieve their first full level 3 qualification to access around 400 fully funded courses. The offer includes a range of qualifications that are valuable across the economy in multiple sectors. The qualifications list currently includes 33 digital qualifications in areas such as cyber security, coding, network architecture, systems support, and aspects of digital design for the creative industries. We will keep this list under review to ensure it adapts to the changing needs of the economy.
Whilst £95 million has been dedicated for the level 3 adult offer, the exact spend on different courses will be based on learner uptake.
Complementing the level 3 adult offer, Skills Bootcamps offer free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. Skills Bootcamps offer digital skills training in areas such as software development, digital marketing and data analytics and technical skills training. We have introduced the Skills Bootcamps in six local areas so far, and we are investing a further £43 million from the NSF to extend them across England.
Following a competitive application process, successful bids will be announced in the spring to ensure many more thousands of adults benefit from this offer. We expect that at least half of the £43 million Skills Bootcamps funding will address digital skills needs, but the final figure will be determined by the outcome of the procurement.
The government plans to consult on the NSF in spring 2021 to ensure that we develop a fund that helps adults learn valuable skills and prepares them for the economy of the future.