Westminster Employment Forum

Establishing the National Retraining Scheme - take-up, delivery and adapting to a changing labour market

Morning, Thursday, 28th November 2019

Central London


This seminar will assess the initial implementation of the National Retraining Scheme and next steps for its development.

Delegates will consider the approach being adopted by the National Retraining Partnership and how it can most effectively integrate into the existing skills, training and qualifications landscape.

The seminar follows the recently published Post-18 Review of Education and Funding, which endorses the National Retraining Scheme, whilst recommending the introduction of a lifelong learning loan allowance, greater investment in ‘second chance learning’ - such as through the National Retraining Scheme - and for first full level qualifications at level 2 and 3 to be fully funded at any age.

With concerns over the funding of the scheme being raised by some in the sector, and with projected costs for the programme yet to be outlined, delegates will discuss cost expectations and sources of funding - including the potential balance of contributions from government, employers and users.

They will discuss the possible size and scope of the programme and - with pilots initially focused towards adults in low-skilled work and occupations susceptible to automation - options for expansion into further sectors and workforce areas.

We expect discussion on what will be needed to create a programme that matches user needs so as to ensure high take-up and the involvement of hard-to-reach groups, particularly those lacking the time, money and confidence or the necessary skills to retrain.

Further sessions discuss how careers advice and guidance will need to develop to support the creation of a culture of retraining and lifelong learning, which is cited as an overarching objective of the Scheme.

It takes place with changes at the National Careers Service and with the Careers Strategy currently being implemented - and in the face of evolving technology and changing workforce needs.

We also expect discussion on the role for qualifications and awarding bodies in the changing skills landscape.

With the Government increasingly focusing on digital skills across the spectrum, we expect discussion on the role the National Retraining Scheme has in maintaining and updating the digital literacy of the workforce.

It follows the Government’s recently announced call for views on new digital Functional Skills qualifications, looking at options for further new qualifications to compliment the programme, and how they might be implemented.

A further area for discussion is opportunities for retraining in data science and artificial intelligence skills, with plans for this to be supported by the recently announced Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund.

With the National Retraining Scheme widely considered as a response to work automation, further sessions will consider the likely broader economic impacts, discussing how the programme can be designed to combat macro-economic challenges such as skill shortages, productivity issues and labour mobility - and examples of how retraining is being approached outside the UK.

Keynote Speaker

Ian Caplan

Programme Director, National Retraining Scheme, Department for Education

Keynote Speakers

John Cope

Head, Education and Skills, CBI

Ian Caplan

Programme Director, National Retraining Scheme, Department for Education


Viscount Younger of Leckie

Spokesman for Higher Education and Government Whip for Education, Scotland, Wales and NI, and Culture, Media and Sport


Stephen Radley

Director of Policy, CITB

Iain Murray

Senior Policy Officer, TUC

Patrick Spencer

Head of Work and Welfare Unit, Centre for Social Justice

Mark Dawe

Chief Executive, Association of Employment and Learning Providers

Joe Billington

Director, National Careers Service

Dr Susan Pember

Director, Policy and External Relations, Holex