Westminster Employment Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Lifelong learning, the National Retraining Scheme and establishing the National Skills Fund - take-up, delivery and adapting to a changing labour market following the pandemic


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference is focusing on the establishment of the Government’s new £2.5bn National Skills Fund - and on the expected consultation on the Fund, which will look at long term skills needs.

The discussion at a glance:

  • what has been learnt so far from the development of Government’s National Retraining Scheme (NRS)
  • the role of the NRS in dealing with medium term skills needs following the COVID-19 pandemic
  • wider issues around lifelong learning

The discussion in detail:

  • Making a success of the National Skills Fund, and examining its scope:
    • how the new fund will relate to existing funding for post 18 training
    • the future relationship between the National Skills Fund and the National Retraining Scheme
    • if the fund will support specific employers as the Apprenticeship levy does
    • the level of training and retraining that the new fund will support
  • Funding - with concerns being raised by some in the sector, and with projected costs for both the National Retraining Scheme and National Skills Fund yet to be outlined - delegates will discuss:
    • cost expectations
    • sources of funding - including the potential balance of contributions from government, employers, and users
  • Size and scope - what has been learnt so far from the National Retraining Scheme, with:
    • pilots initially focused towards adults in low-skilled work and occupations susceptible to automation
    • the first phase of the Scheme ahead of full rollout available only to adults aged 24 and older, qualified below degree level, and within a certain wage threshold
  • Inclusivity - what will be needed to develop programmes that:
    • adapt to user needs
    • ensures high take-up
    • secures the involvement of hard-to-reach groups
    • serves those who are otherwise unlikely to receive retraining - particularly those lacking the time, money, and the confidence or necessary skills to retrain
  • Strategic aims - how to achieve the overarching objectives of both the NRS and National Skills Fund, for:
    • creating a culture of retraining and lifelong learning
    • overcoming the barriers that adults face to retraining - looking at the roles of careers advice and guidance, and how they will need to develop, and qualifications and awarding bodies
  • The changing skills landscape following the pandemic - with the Government increasingly focusing on digital skills across the spectrum:
    • digital literacy - the contribution of the National Retraining Scheme to maintaining and updating the capabilities of the workforce
    • leading-edge sectors - opportunities for retraining in data science and artificial intelligence skills, with plans for this to be supported by the Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund
    • the National Skills Fund - and supporting long term skills needs following COVID-19 - including how the Fund can complement existing available support, how it can support employers - particularly SMEs - and how the Government can ensure the best possible return on investment
  • Broader economic impacts - with the National Retraining Scheme and National Skill Funds widely considered as a response to work automation, we also expect discussion on:
    • macro-economic challenges - how the programmes can be designed to combat issues arising from skill shortages and productivity issues, and support labour mobility
    • international best practice - examples of how retraining is being approached outside the UK

A scan of relevant developments:

  • The first phase of the NRS - in the Liverpool City Region, the West Midlands Combined Authority, the Leeds City Region LEP, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough combined authority area, the Heart of the South West LEP and the North East LEP
  • the National Skills Fund and the pandemic - with a report by City and Guilds calling for government to redirect funding to support those that have lost their jobs as a result of the crisis
  • Higher Technical qualifications - government reforms to improve support adults seeking to retrain and upskill, including new qualifications from September 2022 with a Government quality mark
  • Get Help to Retrain - the new digital service and the recent government tender as part of the NRS for groups of employers, providers and local authorities to deliver a new training model in the digital sector with the partnership providing 12 week courses

The agenda:

  • What has been learnt from the National Retraining Scheme
  • Creating an effective retraining offer - funding, scope, and engagement with industry and the workforce
  • Case study: international approaches to lifelong learning
  • The role of qualifications in the future lifelong learning landscape
  • Adapting to a changing labour market following COVID-19 - careers advice and guidance, retraining, digital literacy and the impact on labour mobility
  • Lessons from the National Retraining Scheme pilots and user research, and the next steps for the National Skills Fund

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

It’s certainly the case with this one. Places have been reserved by officials from DWP; the Department for Education; BEIS; DCMS; the Department for International Trade; the Department for the Economy, NI; the Department for Transport; HM Revenue & Customs; the Industrial Strategy Council; the Ministry of Defence; the Ministry of Justice; the Government Equalities Office; Office for Artificial Intelligence; Office for National Statistics; UK Space Agency; The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

Shortly after every Westminster Employment Forum seminar, a briefing document is produced. This is distributed to all delegates on the day as well as to our policymaker contacts in government, and to stakeholders more widely.

A seminar publication provides a timely record of proceedings, and acts as a guide to the latest thinking on current policy issues for those unable to be at the event.

This publication includes


Contributions from keynotes and panellists, including accompanying slides*
*Subject to approval

Delegate Pack

Information from the day, including delegate list, biographies and agenda


Transcript of questions and comments posed to speakers from attending delegates


Supplementary articles from speakers
and delegates