§ Lord Maginnis of Drumglass
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What are the opportunities and provisions for retraining individuals aged 25 to 40 who wish to change from desk-bound employment to trades where there are shortages, for example plumbing and carpentry. [HL3518]110WA
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland)
Improving adults' access to training, whether to develop their existing career or to move into an entirely new area, is one of the aims of the skills strategy.
Our skills strategy set out further opportunities and reforms to enable individuals to retrain. It committed us to develop apprenticeships for adults to meet skills needs in response to employer demand. We and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) are working with sector skills councils (SSCs) that are either already licensed or expected to be so in the near future, to trial appropriate provision in a small number of sectors in England starting later this year.
SSCs are influential employer bodies, licensed by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, in consultation with Ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to tackle the skills and productivity needs of their sector throughout the UK. There are SSCs covering both plumbing (SummitSkills) and carpentry (ConstructionSkills).
SummitSkills aims to support employers and employees to achieve appropriate recognition of their plumbing skills. Mature apprenticeships will be introduced in some parts of the UK during 2004. The local plumbing training centre will be able to advise on the provision in each area. For Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland there are differences in provision and the local centre will provide specific guidance.
ConstructionSkills has identified addressing the issue of retraining adults as a priority but the work is still at a very early stage.
The Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) programme was announced in 2001. These centres, which are based within colleges and other training providers, receive extra funding to enable them to develop high quality skills training to meet employers' current and future skills needs.
There are now 260 centres offering adult learners a wide and diverse range of skills training for careers in many industries including construction (including plumbing and carpentry skills), which is currently served by 40 centres (15 per cent of the network). More centres will follow as the LSC is committed to creating a network of 400 centres by March 2006.
From 2006, when the full network is in place, it will provide 40,000 qualifications and awards each year at levels 2 and 3, and 800 foundation degrees. It will have increased levels of employer engagement, with 20,000 employees benefiting from tailored provision paid for by their employers.