DfE exceeds 16k skills bootcamps starts target in 2021-22

But data on completions and gender won't be released until next year

But data on completions and gender won't be released until next year

The government exceeded its target for skills bootcamps starts last year – including for HGV drivers, according to new data.

Department for Education figures published this morning shows 16,120 people started one of the free, 12-to-16-week courses between April 2021 and March 2022 against a target of 16,000.

Of those starts, 4,740 were on HGV driving bootcamps. The DfE had aimed to train 3,000 new HGV drivers through skills bootcamps to tackle the national shortage of haulage drivers.

However, today’s release has no data on how many of the starters completed their programme or what their outcomes were.

There is also no information on skills bootcamp learners’ characteristics, such as their gender. Previous FE Week analysis found that the flagship skills bootcamps policy was only funding sectors heavily dominated by men.

Today’s data release said further statistics for learner completions and outcomes by participants will be published “in due course, once the data is available from providers”.

Previous early research reports for the first wave of skills bootcamps, which covered the period September 2020 to March 2021, flagged poor outcomes and data collection issues.

There are also issues with the reliability of today’s data.

Data is collected from provider’s own records and compiled by DfE from individual provider submissions.

The DfE admitted a “number of errors and inconsistences in the way in which starts data had been reported between providers were identified”.

To address this the data was subject to a “number of quality checks”, including removing duplicate records and “cleaning” to “ensure consistent formatting for key variables, including National Insurance Number, postcode, name, and all start and payment dates”. 

The DfE said: “The methodology used to determine starts means that the reported figure is conservative. A valid start required the presence of data for a valid start date and the first payment date. It is possible providers did not record this data for some starts which may mean the estimate is lower than the true figure.”

It was announced in January that all new skills bootcamp providers will be required to submit information about their courses through the individualised learner record (ILR) to overcome these issues – but this was not made mandatory until wave three of the rollout in 2022-23.

Responding to today’s data, minister for skills, apprenticeships and higher education Robert Halfon said: “Skills bootcamps are part of our skills and apprenticeships revolution and have already given thousands of people the chance to step up the ladder of opportunity.  

“We’ve exceeded our target of 16,000 starts in the last year, showing that these courses are not only popular but plugging skills gaps. From taking up accelerated apprenticeships or going on to further study in key sectors like digital, engineering and HGV driving, these courses are enabling people to climb the ladder by moving into a new job.”

Skills bootcamps are flexible courses designed for adults to train in careers in areas of national skills shortage, such as construction, manufacturing and digital. The bootcamps, based around levels 3 to 5, also guarantee an interview with an employer.

They were first announced in September 2020 as a key pillar of the government’s national skills fund.

Almost £50 million has already been spent on the scheme and the DfE’s target for both starts and completion in 2021-22 was 16,000.

Over half a billion pounds has been committed for skills bootcamps from 2022 to 2025.

Ofsted has been asked to inspect skills bootcamp provision from April 2023 after quality concerns about the delivery of the training were raised earlier this month.

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  1. I’m on a HGV bootcamp and have not even had a date for my driving lessons yet, despite passing my theory test in April 2022. My supplier, Qube Learning, told me recently that they have paused all driving training because of the the rising costs associated with it, leaving myself and hundreds of others in the lurch with no way forwards