A new loan scheme for lifetime learning, announced in today's Queen's Speech, has been welcomed by the Institute for Export & International Trade (IOE&IT), the professional membership body representing and supporting the interests of importers and exporters.
Every adult in the UK will be given access to a flexible loan to pay for higher-level education under plans unveiled in the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament today.
The government’s 'Lifetime Skills Guarantee' will be underpinned by an education bill being put before the House of Commons next week.
Trailing the scheme in a speech to Exeter College back in September 2020, prime minister Boris Johnson said it would provide “rocket fuel” to the UK’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The plan details help for people to train or retrain at any stage and secure well-paid jobs throughout the course of their lives.
Student loans overhaul
The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill announced today includes:
- A new student finance system to overhaul the current student loans system, which will give every adult access to a flexible loan for higher-level education and training at university or college, useable at any point in their lives
- Employers having a statutory role in planning publicly-funded training programmes with education providers
- More government powers to intervene in colleges that fail to meet local needs
‘Grants, not loans’
The move was welcomed by the IOE&IT, whose director general Marco Forgione said:
“The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill offers the potential to put the prime minister’s promised rocket fuel into the tanks of Britain’s economy, in the form of people with the knowledge and expertise needed to access international markets.
“To be truly fuel for the rocket, however, we argue that grants rather than loans are needed, especially for people who may have lost their jobs or are on furlough and facing an uncertain future.
“If loans are the chosen route, however, they need to be affordable and easy to access.”
The jobs board on the IOE&IT’s export.org.uk website today is advertising more than 8000 jobs in customs and trade in businesses across the UK, from junior to board level, with over 1000 vacancies in Greater London alone.
According to the Institute's jobs board, salaries in the sector are above average, with customs specialists averaging around £34,000 and customs managers around £41,000.
Forgione said that these roles offer “careers that will be central to the reshaping of the UK’s economy as we build back better from Covid-19”.
Trade skills needed
He added “international trade is perhaps the sector best placed to help level up the economy and getting people the skills needed to succeed in it is vital.
“We know that, as Britain’s trading position undergoes its most radical changes in generations, there is a huge need from businesses for more and better skilled staff to deal with international trade and customs processes.
“A measure of success for these changes will be if they help companies to fill those gaps with well-trained, well-paid, professional customs and supply chain management staff.”