High-quality degree alternatives to boost adult skills and job prospects

Education | South East


Adults will be able to access more, high-quality alternatives to university degrees under new measures to boost the nation’s skills and job prospects.

The package will help colleges and universities invest in new equipment that will support technical studies, and boost training opportunities with businesses in areas such as digital and construction.

It will also create new, shorter courses for working adults in STEM subjects like engineering and manufacturing, giving those wishing to upskill or retrain greater flexibility in how and when they study.

Boosting the uptake and quality of Higher Technical Education – technical qualifications that sit between A Levels and degrees – and supporting adults to study more flexibly throughout their lives is a key part of the Government’s landmark reforms to post-16 education and training.

A major review of Higher Technical Education revealed these qualifications can unlock the skills employers need, can lead to well paid jobs and help support the country to build back better from the pandemic.

Despite this, only 4% of young people achieve a qualification at higher technical level by the age of 25 compared to the 33% who get a degree or above.

The funding will be invested from Summer 2021 to kickstart work to ensure more Higher Technical Education is on offer across the country, providing more people with high-quality alternatives to university degrees.

The package consists of:

• A new £18 million Growth Fund to support further and higher education providers to expand high-quality Higher Technical Education. The fund will help providers to invest in equipment and develop the business links they need to offer training that will meet growing employer demands for skills in sectors including Digital, Construction, Health and Science.

• Up to £10 million for Institutes of Technology to develop and deliver higher technical short and modular courses in STEM disciplines like engineering, manufacturing, construction and digital. Aimed at working adults, these courses, which will be available from Autumn 2021, will be free to access and will support people to rapidly reskill or upskill to meet local economic needs.

• £2 million to support the development and delivery of high-quality modular training focused on upskilling employees to help address future skills gaps in high value manufacturing. The High Value Manufacturing Catapult, an organisation that supports businesses to harness innovation, have been appointed to lead this exciting new project, working with Institutes of Technology.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Investment in higher technical skills will support more people to secure exciting and rewarding careers, fill skills gaps in our economy and help us build back better from the pandemic. We also want to counter the myth that a degree is the only way to a good job. This funding will help open up more high quality training alternatives for people, empowering them to get the skills they need to build the life they want, wherever they live.”

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