Wednesday 31 March 2021 / 10:30 PM Education / Toby Perkins

Over 9 million jobs excluded from Conservatives’ skills ‘guarantee’

Over 9.4 million jobs are in sectors excluded from Boris Johnson’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, new House of Commons Library analysis for Labour shows, limiting opportunities for adults to retrain and gain new skills after the pandemic.

The Conservative Government’s failure to manage the impacts of the pandemic has seen the unemployment rate rise to five per cent, 1.7 million people, with sectors such as retail and hospitality, which have faced significant challenges over the past year, worst affected.

However, many of these sectors, from retail and hospitality to travel and tourism, are excluded from the Lifetime Skills Guarantee training offer, despite Conservative claims that the Guarantee would enable all adults to gain a level 3 qualification (equivalent to two A-levels). Across the country this means over a third of all current jobs will be excluded from the training programme, limiting opportunities for the sectors worst affected by the pandemic to rebuild.

This follows revelations that over half of the qualifications on offer through the Guarantee do not meet the Department for Education’s own definition of a full level 3 qualification, with over a third lacking the required guided learning hours. Adults who already hold a level 3 qualification are also excluded from accessing new training under the scheme, despite Boris Johnson’s claim that he was giving adults the chance to “train and retrain”.

Toby Perkins MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Further Education and Skills, said:

“You would be forgiven for thinking the Conservatives’ Lifetime Skills Guarantee is an April Fool’s joke, rather than a plan to help reskill our country after this pandemic.

“The Conservatives’ mishandling of the Covid crisis has led the UK to experience the worst economic crisis of any major economy. Their limited plans will now leave millions unable to access the skills they need to play their part in our recovery.

“Minister should urgently widen eligibility for the Lifetime Skills Guarantee to ensure it reaches all adults who could benefit.”

Notes to editors:

  • Over 9.4 million jobs are excluded from the Lifetime Skills Guarantee across England, House of Commons Library:
People employed in industry sectors linked to excluded sub-sector areas
2019, England      
Region Number employed (‘000s)   % of all employed
London 2,176,000   41
South East 1,566,300   36
South West 909,800   35
North East 377,200   34
North West 1,189,500   34
East 927,200   32
East Midlands 695,600   32
West Midlands 851,300   32
Yorkshire and The Humber 786,800   31
England total 9,479,700   35
Source: ONS Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES)


  • Research by the House of Commons Library shows the sectors that are excluded from the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, and the number of jobs in each sector.
People employed in industry sectors linked to excluded sub-sector areas    
2019, England      
Industry sector Sub-sector subject area Number employed (‘000s) % of all employed
Retail and wholesale Retailing and wholesaling 3,574 13.1
Accommodation and food service activities Hospitality and catering 2,033 7.5
Information and communication Publishing & information services; Media & communication 1,188 4.4
Arts, entertainment and recreation Performing Arts; Sport & recreation; Crafts, creative arts & design; Literature & Culture 670 2.5
Administration of the State and the economic and social policy of the community Sociology and social policy 645 2.4
Office administrative, office support and other business support activities Administration 500 1.8
Legal activities Law and legal sciences 304 1.1
Advertising and market research Marketing and sales 156 0.6
Travel agency, tour operator and other reservation service and related activities Travel & tourism 89 0.3
Architectural activities Architecture; Urban planning 89 0.3
Justice and judicial activities Law and legal sciences 80 0.3
Veterinary activities Animal care and vetinary science 74 0.3
Activities of religious organisations Theology & religious studies 64 0.2
Research and experimental development on social sciences and humanities Social sciences; Geography; History 7 0.0
Translation and interpretation activities Languages 6 0.0
Activities of political organisations Politics 4 0.0
Total   9,483 35
Source: ONS Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES)      



Source: FE Week


  • Announcing the Lifetime Skills Guarantee in September the Prime Minister said: “today I want to set out how this government will offer a Lifetime Skills Guarantee to help people train and retrain”