Starting this Parliament, the government is providing £2.5 billion (£3 billion when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations), for the National Skills Fund.
The National Skills Fund will support adults to learn and reach their potential in the labour market. The fund will complement other provision available for adults, such as through the Adult Education Budget and other recent reforms to adult skills provision and funding. This will ensure we develop a system that really works for adults.
Currently, adults who are between the ages of 19 – 23 are eligible for full funding for their first full level 3. My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, recently announced that we are now extending eligibility for a first full level 3 so adults who are above the age of 23 can also benefit from courses with high economic value and strong alignment with government priorities. We will target this level 3 entitlement at subjects and qualifications with economic value and the strongest alignment with government priorities, to ensure the best possible returns for individuals, employers and the nation.
The Prime Minister also announced the launch of our new digital bootcamps, in 6 areas, to support local regions and employers to fill in-demand vacancies. The bootcamp training courses will provide valuable skills based on employer demand and will offer a fast track to a job interview on completion.
The bootcamps will be available in specific local areas for adults aged 19 and above, while we trial the most impactful way to deliver them. Pending the success of the initial bootcamps, we are planning to expand the digital bootcamps to more of the country from spring 2021 and we also want to extend this model to include other technical skills training.
The government remains committed to consulting on the National Skills Fund to ensure that we develop a fund that helps adults learn valuable skills and prepare for the economy of the future.
We are continuing to review the ongoing implications of the COVID-19 outbreak and we are considering the most appropriate time and approach we can take to launch the consultation, ensuring that we have meaningful discussions with employers, providers and users.
In the meantime, the department will continue to engage closely with stakeholders as we continue to develop detailed plans for the National Skills Fund, including considering what role the fund could play in meeting more immediate needs in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.