To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given (1) to introducing a national and regional skills strategy to provide reskilling opportunities within low carbon sectors, and (2) to the benefits of investing in reskilling and retraining in low-carbon and climate resilient industries, to address unemployment arising from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government is committed to making the skills system more responsive to employer skill needs both locally and nationally, and to equip young people and adults with the skills they need to have productive and fulfilling careers. We are working with employers in all sectors including those in the ‘green economy’ to jointly design and deliver policies and programmes to do this.
We are investing in a network of Institutes of Technology around the country – flagship training providers that will help to drive regional growth in key areas like engineering, advanced manufacturing and construction by meeting technical and higher technical skills needs.
We recently published reforms that aim to make higher technical education a high-quality, prestigious and popular choice. Through our reforms, we will introduce a national approvals scheme to show which higher technical qualifications (including those addressing needs in low carbon sectors) deliver the skills that employers want. We will also raise the profile and understanding of higher technical education through a public campaign and improved information, advice and guidance.
There are a number of apprenticeships available in the green and energy sectors including Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) controls engineer, community energy specialist and dual-fuel smart meter installer, and we are committed to ensuring people of all ages can benefit from the high-quality training that an apprenticeship offers. To help support employers to offer new apprenticeships, employers are now able to claim £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire under the age of 25, and £1,500 for those 25 and over.
Alongside these wider adult skills reforms, the government is providing £2.5 billion (£3 billion when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations) starting this Parliament, for a new National Skills Fund to help adults learn new skills and prepare for the economy of the future.
As part of this, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, recently announced the launch of the trial of digital bootcamps to support local regions and employers to fill in-demand vacancies. We will expand these out to wider areas of the economy and parts of the country next year.
My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, also announced, as part of his Lifetime Skills Guarantee, that for adults who do not currently have a level 3 qualification, the government will be fully funding their first full level 3 through the National Skills Fund.
Currently, adults who are between the ages of 19 – 23 are eligible for full funding for their first full level 3. We are now extending eligibility for a first full level 3 so adults who are above the age of 23 can also benefit from level 3 courses and qualifications with high economic value and strong alignment with government priorities. We will continue to work to ensure that the National Skills Fund aligns and supports important cross-government priorities, including the UK's ambitious clean growth agenda.
We are committed to consulting on aspects of the National Skills Fund. 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 we have meaningful discussions with employers, providers and users.
In the meantime, we will 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.