To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to promote (a) further education courses and (b) skilled jobs in agriculture; and what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on ensuring that this activity meets the skilled labour needs of the agricultural sector.
In the 2021 Spending Review, the government set out its plan to invest £3.8 billion more in skills over the Parliament as a whole, ensuring people can access high-quality training and education that addresses skills gaps and boosts productivity. This investment is underpinned by our Skills for Jobs reform programme, which will put employers at the heart of the system by aligning most technical courses with employer-led standards by 2030.
These reforms will empower employers to shape publicly funded training offers to meet their needs and create more routes into skilled employment in sectors critical to UK economy, including the agriculture sector. Apprenticeships are in the vanguard of this change. There are 41 high quality apprenticeship standards in the agriculture, environmental and animal care occupational route, each of which have been developed by employer trailblazer groups. In addition the first T Levels in Agriculture Land Management and Production and Animal Care and Management will follow suit from September 2023. We are also bringing in changes to ensure everyone has access to education and training that will help them to get a great job. This includes Free Courses for Jobs, enabling learners without a level 3 qualification (or learners with any qualification level but earning below the National Living Wage) to gain a qualification for free. 18 qualifications in agriculture are currently on offer under this scheme, which can be explored here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/find-a-free-level-3-qualification/list-of-free-level-3-qualifications-available-to-eligible-adults#agriculture.
We are promoting and increasing awareness of our skills provision to learners and employers through the Skills for Life campaign, which targets employers, young people, and adults. Our campaign toolkits provide more information and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/skills-campaign-toolkits.
The department regularly engages in cross-government forums to assess and address labour market challenges across the economy including with the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs on skills needs for the food manufacturing and agricultural sectors.