22 August 2019
The Assistant Minister for Social Security, Education and Health, Deputy Jeremy Maçon, has responded to calls to add additional degree courses to the island’s Critical Skills list.
Deputy Maçon explained that, while supporting islanders’ careers is important, additional courses cannot be added to the list unless they meet particular criteria.
The Critical Skills list describes specific courses that give students skills which are badly needed in Jersey’s job market. In order for a course to be listed, it must be an essential qualification, and must increase students’ employability. There must also be a high chance that students will take up employment in a critical role once they successfully complete the course.
If a course qualifies for the list, low-income students can continue to receive Income Support payments while studying. Low-income students can also receive Income Support while studying part-time non-critical courses, alongside carrying out paid work.
For full-time courses that do not qualify as critical, students may be able to receive funding from Student Finance, but will stop receiving Income Support payments.
The Critical Skills courses currently listed are:
- the Jersey Graduate Teacher Training Programme
- the Social Work degree, offered by Highlands College and Health and Community Services
- the Nursing degree, offered by Health and Community Services (including mental health nursing); and
- the Access to Science (Nursing) course, required for progression to the Nursing degree.
Additional courses can be considered for the list, but only if Ministers or professional bodies recommend that the qualification will meet a critical need in Jersey’s job market.
Following requests from students, officers were instructed to review the Highlands Psychology with Criminology degree to see whether it could be added to the Critical Skills list. It was determined that, although those who graduate from the programme will be equipped with skills that would be beneficial to a career in mental health, a degree dedicated to mental health would still be required to work in this field. Therefore, the programme does not meet the criteria to be added to the Critical Skills list.
Deputy Maçon said: “The Government of Jersey is committed to creating a skilled local workforce for the future. The Critical Skills list forms an important part of this priority - allowing us to support islanders through courses that will help to meet significant skills gaps in Jersey’s job market.
“To encourage islanders to complete these courses, and to make sure that the island has the skills we need, low-income mature students studying for critical courses can receive help through Income Support. This help is only available for the specific critical courses, because Income Support doesn’t have a budget to support mature students returning to education full-time.”
Deputy Maçon explained that, although mature students can’t receive additional support to study non-critical courses, other help is available to those wanting to further their careers.
He added: “I understand that the situation will be disappointing to some mature students, but I would encourage them to take advantage of other options to further their careers. We offer some short courses for registered jobseekers through Back to Work, which could help islanders to access a chosen industry, and it is also possible for those on Income Support to study part-time or evening courses, such as Open University qualifications, alongside paid work.
“Mature students may also be eligible for course fees and maintenance grants through Student Finance, or through a bursary or educational grant, which could help them to complete a qualification that isn’t on the Critical Skills list.”
Islanders wishing to find out more about Student Finance, or about grants and bursaries in Jersey, can find further information on gov.je.