In a speech issued today the UK prime minister Boris Johnson has promised a “radical” change to the adult education system, in a bid to stimulate the economy and produce job prospects during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previously, the government had already announced an increase to grants available to businesses who take on an apprentice.

At the moment, businesses are able to claim a £2,000 grant for any apprentice they take on who is aged 16-24, and a £1,500 grant for apprentices aged 25+. They’re also able to claim an additional £1,000 if the apprentice is 16-18.

This is a fantastic incentive to encourage employers to consider hiring new apprentices, and it comes complimentary to the established funding, where the government will cover 95% of the cost of an apprenticeship course for non-levy paying businesses.

Let’s take a look at the announcements regarding adult education that were recently shared by the government, and what the benefits may be for employers –

Adults in England without a Level 3 Qualification (A-Level) will be offered a fully-funded course

The PM explained that the government were aware they would not be able to save every job lost due to the coronavirus pandemic, but acknowledged there was a new demand for jobs in industries that have flourished due to a rise in online shopping.

The government have therefore pledged to offer a selection of fully funded college courses that focus on the modern skills valued by employers.

We may rightly speculate, that considering the rise of online shopping these courses may have a focus on digital skills and those relevant to future business development, as well as warehousing and manufacturing qualifications due to a higher dependence on distribution.

The Government reiterated it wants adults to be able to Upskill at ‘any point in their life’

The government has been adamant from the beginning of their term that there will be a heavy focus on pushing apprenticeships.

Many people still have an outdated view of apprenticeships, and don’t realise that the modern apprenticeship allows them to upskill within their current role. Employers will be encouraged to offer their current employees the chance to take part in an apprenticeship as part of their professional development.

With a decline in the retail industry, there may be a focus on digital skills

This morning’s announcement also acknowledged the fact that there may be an irreversible decline in the retail industry, in terms of bricks and mortar retail.

This is something which has been speculated for a long time, but it seems COVID may have been the final nail in the coffin for many established high-street brands, who have finally moved to a digital-only model.

The government have announced a focus on funding adult education to enable those most affected by retail redundancies to diversify their skill set and move into growth industries.

SMEs will be offered further financial incentives to take on apprentices

In the first round of a funding boost to apprenticeships, £8m will be invested in creating skills bootcamps in West Yorkshire, South West England, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire with an emphasis on construction and engineering training.

Previous pilots of these bootcamp schemes took place in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, and focused on digital skills.

The government has also promised further funding to SME businesses to encourage them to take on apprentices. Alongside this, the government has confirmed it wishes to offer businesses who take on apprentices ‘greater flexibility’ in the way the apprenticeship is delivered, especially in construction and creative industries, who would ordinarily struggle to deliver a traditional apprenticeship model, due to varied working hours and shifts.

There will be greater flexibility for adults looking to engage in continuous professional development

The overall aim is to allow a model of flexible learning for adults who wish to continue learning and upskilling throughout their careers. A new arrangement from the government will allow for funding and grants to be available to more people, and it will allow them to break up their study into more manageable formats that compliment their working patterns.

And this is only the beginning…

With a massive push towards adult education and providing incentives for a ‘learn as you earn’ approach, we believe it’s highly likely that further incentives will come into place for businesses as the government’s COVID business recovery plan comes into effect.


Interested in taking on an apprentice? There’s no time like the present. We can talk you through funding available to your business – why not request a call back?