The decision was taken to increase the scale and reach of our offer in response to the challenges facing our changing economy, by consolidating our support in larger, more comprehensive offers.
The Unionlearn model has its limitations. It is reliant on a trade union presence in the workplace, which is more focused on larger employers and does not necessarily reach the unemployed, self-employed, start-ups, and many more small and medium-sized businesses that do not have union representation. The 2018 evaluation by Exeter University found only 2% of people supported through Unionlearn were unemployed and 5% were self-employed.
We are focussing on a much larger and more comprehensive package of training support, including the establishment of a £2.5 billion National Skills Fund to help adults get the skills they need, including the Lifetime Skills Guarantee – to support any adult who does not yet have an A-level equivalent qualification to obtain one. This is in addition to the existing entitlement for adults without English and maths level 2 qualifications or Basic Digital Skills level 1 to get fully funded support to gain these essential qualifications.
As a result, it was decided not to continue to fund the smaller Unionlearn offer. All the money will be invested in skills and retraining that will be fully accessible to everyone.