UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveils plan for free college courses for COVID-19 hit workers

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Boris Johnson planned a “radical change” in the country’s education system. (File)

London:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday outlined plans for a “radical change” in the country’s education system by offering free college-level courses that benefit those affected by the adverse effects of the coronavirus lockdown.

Referring to his Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s various programs to address job losses in various sectors during the pandemic, Johnson said the courses are a means for people to re-qualify and train to do so up for different jobs.

“We are developing ever more inventive ways to secure jobs and livelihoods, including the winter economic plan that Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced last week. Unfortunately, we cannot save every job,” he said in a speech from his “Lifetime Skills Guarantee” plan.

“But we can give everyone the opportunity to find and create new and better jobs … As part of our Lifetime Skills Guarantee, we will now be funding adult technical courses that are A-level and all teach skills that are very are in demand, “he said.

The British Prime Minister, who spoke at Exeter College in Devon, south-west England, said the pandemic had “massively accelerated” changes in the world of work and made training gaps “painfully visible”.

Funding changes were therefore required to end the “false distinction” between academic and practical learning. Funding for “employer-valued skills” courses will begin in April 2021. A full list of free courses will be announced next month. More details on the education strategy will be set out in a white paper later this year.

“We lack skilled construction workers, skilled mechanics, skilled engineers, and hundreds of thousands of IT professionals. And it’s not that the market doesn’t need these skills. The market will pay copiously.” he said.

“The problem is the supply – and somehow after 18 years our education system doesn’t work to equip people with these skills,” he said, pointing to a “significant proportion” of lab technicians from overseas.

“We have to face the fact that at this point when we need them so badly, there is a shortage of UK-trained laboratory technicians,” he complained.

The government also plans to make higher education loans more flexible to allow people to “clear out” their learning throughout their lives, rather than in three- or four-year blocks to allow for more part-time study.

“We’re going to change the funding model so that it is just as easy to get a one year electrical engineering student loan (or two years of electrical engineering) as a loan for a three year degree in politics, philosophy and science Economy, “said Johnson.

“Right now, a lot of young people feel that they have to choose the degree option. They feel that they only have one chance to study and borrow. They might as well go for the max and graduate.”

Under our plans, you could pursue a year-long technical qualification and jump into life – or you could do that and go to college later. The choice is yours, “he added.

The plans will provide financial incentives for small businesses to recruit trainees and will pump funds into building so-called “digital bootcamps” where people can learn IT skills from successful pilots in Manchester and Birmingham.

Opposition Labor said the government’s plans would not reverse the impact of a “decade of cuts” on the finances of the education system.

“A week ago, Labor called for a national retraining strategy suitable for the UK crisis, but the government is simply proposing a mix of heated old policies and funding that won’t be available until April,” said Kate, Labor shadow education secretary Green.

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