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No arts courses are included in the 400-strong list

Harriet Clifford

Music and other arts excluded from government skills scheme

5:18, 10th December 2020

Music and other creative and performing arts have been excluded from a list of almost 400 ‘high value’ courses that will be offered for free as part of the government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee scheme announced earlier this week. 

From April 2021, adults without a full qualification at Level 3 (A-level equivalent) will be able to study the selected courses free of charge. 

A statement on the gov.uk website says that the courses have been ‘designed to help our country build back better after the pandemic’ and that they ‘have been carefully chosen to help adults improve their career prospects.’

The Department for Education (DfE) also tweeted that the qualifications are ‘for adults to get ahead in work’ and include ‘agriculture, conservation, engineering, business and more’. 

Several major arts organisations have already criticised the move, including the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and the Creative Industries Federation. 

ISM’s chief executive Deborah Annetts said, ‘Omitting performing and arts qualifications from the Lifetime Skills Guarantee programme undermines the credibility of the entire scheme and is typical of this government’s reckless disregard for vital creative subjects. If it is true that this decision was based on what is supposedly valued by employers, then the important contribution of music to the UK economy has been seriously underestimated once again.’

She added that the music industry contributed £5.8 billion to the UK economy in 2019, which ‘depends on a talent pipeline which includes adult education and skills training.’ 

The government offer is backed by £95 million from the £2.5 billion National Skills Fund.

View the list of included courses here.  

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