Plans have been unveiled to fully fund IT courses for adults, putting ‘digital literacy’ on a similar footing to English and maths.
A consultation on the final details of the plans will be undertaken in due course, which will be funded from the existing £1.5bn annual Adult Education Budget.
At present the Skills Funding Agency pays half the full funding for adult short courses in basic computing, with the learner typically paying something towards the costs.
It is unclear when the change to bring in full funding will come in to effect, although typically these would occur from August at the start of the academic year.
The government is currently seeing through their plans to devolve funding for the AEB to over 30 local commissioning authorities in 2018. This will empower the local bodies to decide how and where the AEB is spent.
It is understood that the plans will be included in an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill, which is currently working its way through parliament.
According to the government too many adults do not have the digital skills required for the modern world and should be considered as important as English and maths. At present the government fully funds English and maths at level two and below for adults.
Announcing the plans secretary of state for culture, media and sport Karen Bradley said, “In today’s digital economy, being able to use modern technology and navigate the Internet should be considered as important as English and Maths. But too many people struggle to get by, with more than ten million adults in England lacking the basic digital skills they need.”
Skills and apprenticeships minister Robert Halfon added, “We are committed to making sure that everyone, regardless of age or background has the digital skills they need to enjoy the benefits of modern technology. Whether it’s applying for a job, accessing vital services or as consumers, our world is increasingly moving online – and we don’t want anyone left behind.
Our reforms will mean that people who lack basic digital skills will get the training they need to get on the ladder of opportunity for the jobs of the future.”
The plans come 13 years after the then prime minister and leader of the Labour Party, Tony Blair, tabled the idea of ‘basic ICT skills becoming a third area of adults basic skills’.