UK government's Lifetime Skills Guarantee scheme excludes 1.4 million workers

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2 min read
A waitress carries a tray on a sidewalk in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 31, 2020, amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. - Restaurants and bars reopened on Monday in the city of Buenos Aires after six months of lockdown with tables placed in open-air spaces. (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP) (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images)
Those holding level 3 NVQs or music grades 6, 7 and 8 face being excluded. Photo: JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images

The UK government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, designed to offer training to adults without A-levels or equivalent qualifications, may be keeping out workers that most need it.

New research from the Work Foundation think tank and recruitment website Totaljobs, citing the Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey, has found that 1.4 million low-paid workers in the age bracket 25 to 49 held at least one qualification that would rule them out.

The scheme was debuted in September as part of a broader shake-up for adult education. It is designed to offer fully-funded college courses to those that are over the age of 18 and lack an A-level or equivalent qualification in the UK.

Those holding level 3 NVQs or music grades 6, 7 and 8 face being excluded.

The report says: “Too often, workers who would benefit most from opportunities to develop new skills face the greatest barriers to taking part in training. For some, balancing work, caring responsibilities and financial commitments proves impossible. For others, a perception that training won’t lead to opportunities for progression can be off-putting.”

READ MORE: CBI: Nine in 10 workers need new skills by 2030 to support UK economy

The Work Foundation found that more than 7.5 million mid-career workers have not received any training since leaving full time education, meaning they have no recent experience of engaging in learning and skills development.

The research highlights COVID-19 and Brexit as two factors that have the potential to disrupt the UK labour market.

Chart: The Work Foundation
Chart: The Work Foundation

READ MORE: COVID-19: 'Majority' of UK firms now looking to AI to bolster their business

The research comes amid calls by organisations like the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) for the government to come up with a longer-term plan for increasing skills in the UK’s workforce.

The business group said nine out of 10 people will need new skills by 2030 to support the future of the UK economy, requiring an additional £13bn ($16.8bn) a year.

Research carried out before COVID-19 showed there was an urgent need to go further and faster than prime minister Boris Johnson’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, the CBI said.

Watch: How to create the perfect CV