Hundreds of free qualifications to boost skills, jobs
Almost 400 qualifications have been available since April - backed by £95m in government funding in 2021/22 - as part of government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee. Shaun explains…
ON 1 April nearly 400 level 3 qualifications became free to access for over-24s backed by £95m in government funding in 2021/22 - as part of the government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee.
While this is only available in England and doesn’t include level 2 qualifications such as floorcovering occupations, it does cover other qualifications relevant to the flooring industry such as supervision within construction, business management, warehousing and distribution, manufacturing, accounting, and finance.
The free qualifications sit within the Lifetime Skills Guarantee - announced by the PM in September 2020. The guarantee’s aim is to transform the skills system so everyone can gain the skills they need to progress in work at any stage of their lives. It was also designed to enable employers to gain access to the skilled workforce they need, meaning more people are trained for the skills gaps that exist now, and in the future.
For CITB-registered employers, this government funding also sits alongside any grant you claim for completed training and qualifications but do check with your CITB advisor for clarification on this.
You can access one of the free level 3 qualifications if you’re aged 19 or over and want to achieve your first level 3 qualification, which is equivalent to an advanced technical certificate or diploma, or A levels.
Some of these qualifications are available to study online or part-time. In some instances, you may need to meet admissions criteria for the course you chose to apply for. For example, you may need to have studied a particular subject before at a lower level.
Previously, if you were aged 24 or over, you or your employer would have had to pay the course fee for these qualifications. Now, many colleges and training providers have funding available to cover this cost for you.
If you’re between 19-23, you can also access additional qualifications for free. If you’re in this age group, contact your local college or the National Careers Service for further information.
How to apply
If you’re eligible, you’ll not have to pay for your level 3 qualification. The course will be paid for by government from the National Skills Fund.
1. Find the qualification you’re interested in
2. Check to see which colleges and training providers can offer free level 3 qualifications in your area (The Gov.uk website shows a list of colleges and training providers able to offer free places for level 3 qualifications).
3. Contact the college or training provider to check if they offer the qualification you are interested in.
4. Check the admissions criteria and apply for the course in the normal way.
5. If you are accepted onto the course, you’ll not have to pay a course fee.
The free level 3 qualifications are available to eligible adults across England with a full list of colleges and training providers able to offer free places available to view on the government website.
This list will be updated as more colleges and training providers receive funding to deliver these qualifications. Contact the college or training provider directly to find out if they are offering the qualification you are interested in.
This is a great opportunity to look at CPD for yourself or your employees with the opportunity of the qualification being 100% funded. Certain courses may also be delivered via remote learning which in the current climate will be a great benefit.
For more information on free level 3 qualifications visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/free-courses-for-jobs