Lifelong Learning (Higher Education Fee Limits) Bill Debate

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Department: Department for Education

Lifelong Learning (Higher Education Fee Limits) Bill

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
2nd reading
Monday 27th February 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Lifelong Learning (Higher Education Fee Limits) Act 2023 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Gillian Keegan Portrait Gillian Keegan
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Yes, absolutely. That is why we sometimes see people take a level 4 or 5 apprenticeship course after completing their degree to get the skills that are useful in the workplace. Both full-time and modular options will be available.

The LLE will help people to get the skills they need for the jobs of the future, to build the energy resources, to lay the broadband fibre, to deliver the high-quality social care and to train the teachers and nurses we need. Some of us were fortunate enough to have the right opportunities at the right time, but others were not so lucky. That is what I want to change, because everyone should get that opportunity, regardless of where they are from, the decisions they have taken or even the courses they have chosen in the past.

We believe that the LLE will create a more streamlined lifelong funding system that benefits everyone—learners, employers and the economy. It is estimated that at least 80% of the workforce of 2030 are already in work today. They will need the opportunity to upskill and reskill over their career to progress and adapt to changing skills, needs and employment patterns. The LLE presents everyone with life-changing opportunities to get the skills training they need to retrain, upskill and progress.

I assure my hon. and right hon. Friends that we have consulted widely on how the LLE will work, who is eligible and how to support them. We are considering the contributions to this consultation, and we intend to publish a full response ahead of Report on the wider policy and design of the LLE. My hon. Friend the Member for Meon Valley (Mrs Drummond) has a great interest in this, I am sure.

As we move forward to delivery from 2025, we will continue to talk to representatives from across the education sector, as well as key delivery bodies, such as the Student Loans Company, to create a flexible and streamlined system that responds to the needs of the economy.

Too many businesses are struggling to find people with the right skills for their job vacancies, while school leavers and learners are often baffled by a skills system that is complex and bureaucratic. That means that companies cannot find the workers they need, people cannot progress and the country is stuck in a productivity quagmire. We have people who want to work and companies that want to hire them, but we need the LLE to ensure that the workers of today have the skills for tomorrow. We need learners to be able to upskill and retrain flexibly throughout their working lives as their circumstances and needs change. By offering funding for shorter periods of study, the LLE will help those who may have been put off studying because they thought the fees were too high or the living costs would be too expensive.

This legislation supports the Government’s pledge to introduce the LLE from 2025, building on the Skills and Post-16 Education Act 2022. It also furthers Sir Philip Augar’s independent review of post-18 education in 2019, which included the recommendation that the Government introduce a lifelong learning allowance. Through the LLE, we aim to introduce a more streamlined, efficient and flexible learning system that is fit for the future and brings further and higher education providers closer together. The LLE will transform access to post-18 education, presenting opportunities to retrain, progress and excel throughout an individual’s working life.

This Bill may seem small and technical, but its impact will be far-reaching. We need more coders, doctors, nurses, teachers, technicians and builders—more of most things—and I am certain the British people will answer the call, if only we give them the tools and training to do so. Establishing the LLE may be one small piece of legislation, but it is one great step for life chances and social justice. I am a Conservative because I believe in equality of opportunity—because I believe that what matters is where someone is going, not where they have come from. For that reason, I commend this Bill to the House.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.