Skills for Jobs White Paper sets out future of post-16 education

25 January 2021

Everyone, no matter where they live or their background, will be able to gain the skills they need to progress in work at any stage of their lives according to a blueprint for a post-16 education system set out in a new Government White Paper.

Skills for Jobs: Lifelong learning for opportunity and growth, which is available at, enshrines the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

This is intended to offer tens of thousands of adults the opportunity to retrain in later life, helping them to gain in-demand skills and open up further job opportunities.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Our reforms to post-16 education will focus on the skills people and business need for our economy to grow. As we recover from the pandemic, our Lifetime Skills Guarantee will ensure everyone has the confidence and opportunity to gain the skills they need to progress at any stage of their lives”.

Measures announced in the White Paper will, he suggested, put an end to the illusion that a degree is the only route to success and a good job, and that further and technical education is the second-class option.

The proposals will put employers at the heart of post-16 skills with responsive providers, supported by more effective accountability and funding.

Business groups, including Chambers of Commerce, will work alongside colleges to develop tailored skills plans to meet local training needs. They will be supported by a £65 million Strategic Development Fund to put the plans into action and establish new College Business Centres to drive innovation and enhance collaboration with employers.

Changes in the law will mean that, from 2025, people can access flexible student finance so that they can train and retrain throughout their lives, supported by funding in 2021/22 to test ways to boost access to more modular and flexible learning.

British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Director General Adam Marshall said: “We look forward to working with the Department for Education (DfE), training providers, businesses and other stakeholders across the FE sector to further develop these proposals, making sure more people can train and retrain for new and emerging jobs in their local communities”.

Comment by Paul Holcroft, Managing Director at Croner

The coronavirus pandemic has shown that job requirements do not always stay the same and so employees must be adaptable by developing their skills or retraining for different roles.

This is just one reason why employers may welcome this news but there are also other potential benefits to businesses; such as increased chances of recruitment success within the UK rather than relying on workers from abroad — especially now that the new point-based immigration system has changed the way international recruitment is done.