Adults who didn’t go to university will be offered loans to fund four years of higher education at any point in their lives, as part of new laws announced in the Queen’s Speech.
A massive expansion of education and training, including free intensive “boot camps” to teach skills such as computer programming, will be included in a new Skills and Post-16 Education Bill.
It’s one of a number of new laws included in the Queen’s Speech, when the Government sets out its plans for the year ahead.
The Queen will attend Parliament for her first major public ceremonial duty since the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will join her, but the traditional pageantry has been scaled back because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While she will deliver the speech it is, of course, written for her by the Government. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will go on to speak about the measures in his own Commons speech.
Proposed laws to be announced are expected to include plans for a “Lifetime Skills Guarantee”. This will mean changing the current student loans system, targeted at school-leavers, so that it includes every adult.
The Secretary of State for Education will also be given more powers to intervene in colleges that fail to meet local needs, and to direct structural change where needed to ensure the provider improves.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “These new laws are the rocket fuel that we need to level up this country and ensure equal opportunities for all. We know that having the right skills and training is the route to better, well-paid jobs.
“I’m revolutionising the system so we can move past the outdated notion that there is only one route up the career ladder, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to retrain or upskill at any point in their lives.”
Other measures expected to be in the Queen’s speech include:
- New planning laws to make it easier to build new homes in smaller cities and towns
- Controversial laws to crack down on voter fraud, particularly among postal votes. There will be a limit on the number of postal votes any person can hand in to a polling station, designed to stop one person collecting votes on behalf of large numbers of people.
- The abolition of the Fixed Terms Parliament Act. This would allow the Prime Minister to call an election at a time of their choosing. At the moment, they usually need to wait five years, or to win a vote in Parliament calling for an early election with a two-thirds majority.
- Confirmation of a planned “levelling up” White Paper, which will eventually lead to legislation. This could include more powers for mayors.
- Measures to support the NHS are promised, but no details have been confirmed in advance.
- Environment laws to achieve a net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
- The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will return. This will double the maximum sentence for assaulting people in the emergency services, and give police new powers to stop and search those convicted of knife and offensive weapons offences. It is controversial because it also makes it easier for polic
- There may be laws to protect UK soldiers who served in Northern Ireland from legal action
- A Sovereign Borders Bill is expected to reform the UK’s asylum system, in an attempt to dissuade migrants from crossing the English Channel.
The Queen’s Speech takes place after 11am.