Technology: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered at on 30 June 2020.

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Photo of Alexander Stafford Alexander Stafford Conservative, Rother Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to introduce retraining programmes in (a) the renewable energy sector and (b) other clean technologies sectors for people that may be unemployed after the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Gillian Keegan Gillian Keegan The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Apprenticeships will have an important role to play in creating employment opportunities, particularly for young people, and supporting employers in all sectors to access the skilled workforce they need to recover and grow post-Covid-19. They can also help people re-train and re-enter the workforce.

Employers are at the heart of our reforms to apprenticeships, designing high-quality standards that deliver the skills that they need. Standards developed by the renewable and clean energy sectors include: dual fuel smart meter installer, commercial energy specialist and power engineer.

Additionally, the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) is undertaking work on a number of initiatives to support the energy, and wider engineering sector. This includes: scholarships that are focused on helping young people into areas of growth in the industry during the economic recovery period; connected competence to identify and facilitate transferrable skills, so that training doesn’t need to be replicated within the industry; and ‘Train to retain’ allowing existing graduates to be retained and ultimately reskill them according to emerging industry requirements.

The ECITB is also developing a programme for those at economic risk due to COVID-19 impacts on their part of the industry. This will be similar to the work ECITB and EDF collaborated on for workers at Cottam coal-fired power station, helping them transition from established parts of the energy sector into growth areas.

We continue to work with further education providers and employers to ensure they deliver the skills our workers and economy need. We are looking to support employers of all sizes, and particularly smaller businesses to take on new apprentices this year. We will set out further details in due course. We will also ensure that there is sufficient funding to support small businesses wanting to take on an apprentice this year. In addition, we have launched a new online Skills Toolkit to provide free high quality digital and numeracy courses, the skills most sought after by employers.

Alongside wider adult skills reforms, the government is providing £2.5 billion (£3 billion when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations) over the course of the Parliament, for a new National Skills Fund to help adults learn new skills and prepare for the economy of the future.

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