Free qualifications to boost skills and jobs

As part of the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, if you are 19 or over you can now access a course for free. This is part of the government’s Plan for Jobs.

There are 2 options available to you under the Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

Free level 3 qualifications

If you are 19 or over and do not already have a full level 3 qualification (equivalent to an advanced technical certificate or diploma, or A levels) you can now access a free qualification.

Some of these qualifications are available to study online or part-time.

The courses will help you:

  • gain qualifications that are needed and valued by employers
  • improve your job prospects
  • progress in work
  • earn a good wage

Skills bootcamps

Skills bootcamps offer free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, an opportunity to build up specialist skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer.

They are available to you if you are aged 19 or over and are either in work or recently unemployed (some skills bootcamps have additional eligibility criteria).

Skills bootcamps are developed in partnership with employers, colleges and local authorities, to help people develop the skills that are in demand in their local area and get a better job. They include a range of digital courses and technical skills courses, like construction or engineering.

There has been a high demand for places on the skills bootcamps, however, new skills bootcamps will be announced later in the spring. More information about eligibility, subjects available, locations and how to apply for skills bootcamps will be added as soon as it is available.

Eligibility

You can access one of the free level 3 qualifications if you are aged 19 or over and want to achieve your first level 3 qualification, which is equivalent to an advanced technical certificate or diploma, or A levels.

Some of these qualifications are available to study online or part-time. In some instances, you may need to meet admissions criteria for the course you chose to apply for. For example, you may need to have studied a particular subject before at a lower level.

Previously, if you were aged 24 or over, you would have had to pay the course fee for these qualifications. Now, many colleges and training providers have funding available to cover this cost for you.

If you’re 19 to 23 years old you can also access additional qualifications for free. If you’re in this age group, contact your local college or the National Careers Service for further information.

Subjects available

You can choose from hundreds of level 3 qualifications to help you on the path to a better, well-paid job.

Qualifications are initially available in:

  • accounting and finance
  • agriculture
  • building and construction
  • business management
  • childcare and early years
  • digital
  • engineering
  • environmental conservation
  • health and social care
  • horticulture and forestry
  • manufacturing technologies
  • mathematics and statistics
  • medicine and dentistry
  • public services
  • science
  • teaching and lecturing
  • transportation operations and maintenance
  • warehousing and distribution

See the full list of free level 3 qualifications available.

Locations

Free level 3 qualifications are available to eligible adults across England.

See the full list of colleges and training providers able to offer free places for level 3 qualifications.

This list will be updated as more colleges and training providers receive funding to deliver these qualifications.

Contact the college or training provider directly to find out if they are offering the qualification you’re interested in.

How to apply

If you’re eligible you will not have to pay for your level 3 qualification. The course will be paid for by the government from the National Skills Fund.

  1. Find the qualification you are interested in (see the list of free level 3 qualifications available).
  2. Check to see which colleges and training providers are able to offer free level 3 qualifications in your area (see the list of colleges and training providers able to offer free places for level 3 qualifications).
  3. Contact the college or training provider to check if they offer the qualification you’re interested in.
  4. Check the admissions criteria and apply for the course in the normal way.
  5. If you’re accepted onto the course you will not have to pay a course fee.

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For more information, please email info@youthemployment.org.uk or call 01536 513388.

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