The government is going to introduce “returnerships” and expand skills bootcamps to help the over-50s to retrain and get back into work, the chancellor has said.
Jeremy Hunt is set to announce the measures as part of his plan to boost the economy in what he is calling a “back to work” budget on Wednesday.
He spoke in January of a desire to introduce a “slightly shorter type” of apprenticeship to encourage older people re-enter the workforce.
The Treasury said there are currently more than a million vacancies in the economy, and one fifth of the working population is economically inactive – out of work and not looking for work.
Last night, Hunt announced plans for “returnerships”, which will offer skills training that “focuses on flexibility” and “takes previous experience into account, shortening the length of time they have to be in training”.
Little else is known at this stage about how this new training programme will operate, including which government department will hold responsibility for delivery, its timeline for rollout, or how much funding is being committed.
‘Independence is always better than dependence’
Hunt also said that skills bootcamps will be expanded by 8,000 places per year in 2024-25, up from 56,000 currently, “reskilling people in important sectors such as construction and technology”.
The 12-to-16-week courses are available for those aged 19 and above, and guarantee an interview with an employer at the end of the course.
Data published in December revealed that the government had exceeded its target for skills bootcamps between April 2021 and March 2022, securing 16,120 starts against a planned 16,000 for the short courses.
Data on number of completers for that period was not released, however.
Over half a billion pounds has already been committed for skills bootcamps from 2022 to 2025.
Hunt said: “Those who can work, should work because independence is always better than dependence.
“For many people, there are barriers preventing them from moving into work – lack of skills, a disability or health condition, or having been out of the jobs market for an extended period of time. I want this back-to-work budget to break down these barriers and help people find jobs that are right for them.
“We need to plug the skills gaps and give people the qualifications, support and incentives they need to get into work. Through this plan, we can address labour shortages, bring down inflation, and put Britain back on a path to growth.”