Adults with no A Levels will be offered free college courses - here’s why

By Helen Johnson
Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 12:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 12:34 pm
Adults in England who do not have A Level qualifications are set to be offered a free, fully funded college course, the government has announced (Photo: Shutterstock)

Adults in England who do not have A Level qualifications will be offered a free, fully funded college course, the government has announced.

In his speech on Tuesday 29 September, Boris Johnson said that over the next decade a huge number of people are going to have to change jobs and change skills, but for those over the age of 23, the state provides very little help.

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However, training boot camps and free adult courses will be made available to tackle this issue.

What are the free college courses?

The Prime Minister announced that from next April adults without an A level will be able to get a free college course.

In a news release, No10 said, “Adults without an A-Level or equivalent qualification will be offered a free, fully-funded college course - providing them with skills valued by employers, and the opportunity to study at a time and location that suits them.

"This offer will be available from April in England, and will be paid for through the National Skills Fund. A full list of available courses will be set out shortly.”

The new government decision comes after concerns unemployment is set to grow sharply amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the Office for Budget Responsibility explaining that the unemployment rate could peak at between 9.7 per cent to 13.2 per cent in the next few years.

Alongside this, higher education loans will also be made more flexible, which will allow "adults and young people to space out their study across their lifetimes, take more high quality vocational courses in further education colleges and universities, and to support people to retrain for jobs of the future.”

The government said the changes would be backed by investment in college buildings and facilities, which will include more than £1.5 billion in capital funding.

Further details will be set out in a further education white paper later this year.

In his speech, Mr Johnson also said that he wants to close the gap with other countries that “thought they had the edge on us” in regards to skills and vocation training.

The Prime Minister says he wants to end the “snooty” and “vacuous” distinction between vocational and non-vocational training.

What are the boot camps?

Alongside the free college courses, boot camps will also be made available. Boots camps are employer-led, short, flexible training courses for adults, which are linked to guaranteed interviews and tailored to meet business and economic demand across the country.

Over the next few weeks, the first phase of boot camps will start in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Liverpool. This will include digital courses such as cloud services, full stack, digital for advanced manufacturing and cyber security, and some of these courses will be aimed at specific groups, such as a Women in Tech course.

The second phase of boot camps will then be trialled in West Yorkshire, the South West and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.