The government is investing £3.8 billion more in further education and skills over this Parliament. The department’s skills reforms provide a ladder of opportunity that enables young people and adults to attain good jobs, retrain, and progress in their careers or different careers.
In the 2023 Spring Budget, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced a new initiative called Returnerships. This programme is designed to raise awareness of three different skills pathways, apprenticeships, Skills Bootcamps, and sector-based work academies programmes. This will provide a clear route back into work and encourage employers to hire older workers.
Apprenticeships are available for everyone over the age of 16, from those starting their career, to experienced workers looking to upskill or retrain in a new profession. There are high-quality apprenticeship routes into more than 660 occupations, from entry to expert roles.
As part of our investment in re-skilling and up-skilling opportunities to ensure adults, at any age, can upskill to reach their potential, transforming lives, Skills Bootcamps were introduced at the end of 2020. They deliver short, free, flexible training courses, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills, with an offer of a job interview with an employer on completion.
Skills Bootcamps are still a relatively new training offer, but they are already delivering positive outcomes for adult learners and employers, and are available right across the country. Following the recent Budget announcement, the department will target making 64,000 training places a year available by the 2024/25 financial year to ensure that learners across all areas of the country can access Skills Bootcamps.
We have also introduced the Free Courses for Jobs scheme, which gives eligible adults in England without an existing full level 3 qualification or who are unemployed or meet the low wage criteria, the chance to access over 400 Level 3 qualifications for free.
The offer has seen over 35,000 enrolments reported between April 2021 and October 2022. This means that enrolments are 82% higher for adults without a full level 3 compared uptake of the same qualifications in 2018/19.
We are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB), with an investment of £1.34 billion in the 2022/23 academic year. The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to level 3, to help them gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship, or further learning.
The National Careers Service provides free, up-to-date, impartial information, advice and guidance on careers, skills, and the labour market in England. It offers intensive support for low skilled adults without a qualification at level 3, as one of six priority groups for the Service. Professionally qualified careers advisers can support customers to explore the range of learning routes to determine the best route for them and to develop a careers action plan.
Community-based National Careers Service contractors are co-located in most Jobcentre Plus offices, as well as a range of other community settings. They work closely with work coaches at a local level, encouraging work coaches to refer customers in need of careers advice and guidance to the Service.