Government extends digital retraining scheme to help people losing jobs to automation

Profile picture for user ddpreez By Derek du Preez August 20, 2019
The Get Help to Retrain service forms part of the National Retraining Scheme, which is being developed to support adults losing jobs to new technologies.

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Education Minister Kemi Badenoch has today announced the extension of the Get Help to Retrain digital service to the West Midlands and North East, following a trial across the Liverpool City region last month. 

The service forms part of a series of products that will make up the Government’s National Retraining Scheme, which is being developed to support adults whose jobs may change or be lost due to new technologies - such as automation or AI - to retrain and get on the path to a new career. 

To support the development of the scheme, the government announced £100 million in the autumn budget 2018. It forms part of the government’s Industrial Strategy

The scheme will initially support adults who are already in work, are aged 24 and over, do not have a qualification at degree level, and are paid below a certain wage threshold. 

The government is investing in this group of people first as it is thought that they have less access to existing government support and are most in need of adapting their skills. 

Numerous studies have pointed to the impact of automation and AI on jobs, with experts warning that governments need to get ahead of the changing labour market by reskilling and retraining adult workers. A World Economic Forum study found that 75 million existing job roles will be displaced by automation by 2020. 

Get Help to Retrain is designed to help adults to identify their existing skills, explore the different types of jobs and find training courses to gain the skills they need to progress. The government said that dedicated support is also on hand from qualified careers advisers to guide people through the process and provide expert information and advice. 

Education Minister Kemi Badenoch said:

Following the successful release of the Get Help to Retrain digital service in the Liverpool City Region, I am pleased to announce that from today, we are rolling it out to two additional areas – the North East and West Midlands.

Get Help to Retrain is just the start of the National Retraining Scheme, which will play a vital role helping adults whose jobs are at risk of changing or evolving due to new technologies to learn new skills and get on the path to a new, more rewarding career.

We’re starting off small and rolling it out in stages so we can test, refine and develop the service as we go and make sure we get it right for the people who need it.

The next phase

The initial test phase across the Liverpool City Region was used to provide feedback so that the service could be developed further. From today, the service will be available to more adults to test across the West Midlands and the North East, as well as continuing in Liverpool City. 

The Department for Education said that as the next phase of the rollout ramps up, users will get access to new features that include being able to explore a wider range of training options online and being matched to different types of jobs that they may not have considered they could do with their existing skills. 

Get Help to Retrain will be made publicly available across England from 2020. 

In the Autumn, the service will be rolled out to three more locations - the Leeds City Region, Cambridge and Peterborough, and the South West. A series of additional products that will make up the full service are being developed and tested in parallel, before being released at different times.

The scheme is led and overseen by the National Retraining Partnership - a partnership between Government, the CBI and the TUC - with the aim of ensuring a collection of voices from business and employees are heard. 

Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:

It’s encouraging to see National Retraining Scheme testing rolled out to other locations across the country. Ensuring the UK’s workforce is fit for the future is essential to improving productivity growth. It’s the only sustainable route to higher wages and living standards.

The world of work is changing, fast. The only way to help people adapt and learn throughout their careers is by employers and Government working together. The National Retraining Partnership should kick start a wider cross-government effort aimed at embracing the fourth industrial revolution.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands and former CEO of John Lewis, added:

From my days at John Lewis, I know just how fast technology moves in business. Artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles and robotics are getting better, and in reality it is only a matter of time before real people will lose out to bots in the fight for jobs.

That is why re-skilling and digital training is vital for workers across the West Midlands in order to make sure they are prepared for the future.

Get Help to Retrain announced by government will do this, as well as help make sure businesses have the skilled workforce they need to develop in the long term. It goes hand-in-hand with my Beat the Bots scheme, where the West Midlands Combined Authority is spending £5 million to digitally train nearly 2,000 workers.

I am delighted the Secretary of State has chosen the West Midlands as one of the first areas in the country to have the scheme rolled out, and I look forward to working closely with him to make sure it is a success.