Skills Commission report supports NIACE’s call for radical action

17th November 2014

Today’s analysis from the Skills Commission – which warns that the UK’s system of training and skills provision is growing increasingly out of step with the needs of the modern economy – is further support for NIACE’s call for a radical new approach to skills training for the UK workforce.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“This is yet another report – off the back of others from the CBI, the British Chamber of Commerce, the OECD and the Commission for Vocational, Teaching and Learning – analysing the skills needs of the UK. Each of these reports supports our Manifesto call for radical action as the current approach is clearly not working. To tackle the long-term skills needs and funding issues which we will face over the next 20 years, it is absolutely critical that we have a Royal Commission to implement action, to address the challenges which have been thoroughly analysed.

“If we keep taking the same approach, or assuming that Apprenticeships or simply ‘better training’ will solve this, then nothing will change. We need to move away from the sole focus of getting young people into work. This is, of course, important. But we must widen our thinking to also include those already in work, or those looking for work, because young people and apprentices will need ongoing CPD and skills development throughout their careers.

“It is possible to turn this around. But that can only happen if national and local Government, employers, providers and learners work together to revitalise and revolutionise skills training. Alongside our calls for a Royal Commission, we identified five other priority actions for the next Government, including integrating training with local economic strategies and providing Personal Skills Accounts and Career Reviews so adults can have more control over and make the right choices about their learning. We need to incentivise employers and individuals to recognise the value in investing in training. Without this, the prospects for sustained economic growth which will allow people to get on in their careers and in their lives, look very bleak indeed.”

The Skills Commission’s report – Still In Tune? – highlights four ‘strategic alerts’ about the future of work and its alignment with the skills system:

1. Uncertainty around the responsibility for training in an increasingly flexible labour market, especially as jobs and working patterns – insecure work, zero hours, rise in self- and part time employment – change and  ‘employer’ do not have responsibilities for training that full time employees enjoy.

2. Declining social mobility owing to a reduction in the alignment of skills provision to work, particularly for certain groups as structured routes are no longer the norm where young people and non-graduates compete against more experienced and higher- qualified peers for entry level low-paid jobs.

3. Fragmented skills system makes it hard for employers to engage. There should be local brokerage networks to facilitate meaningful engagement and a clearer ownership of industry standards and their relationship to workforce skills.

4. Alarming policy dissonance between different central Government departments. In particular between BIS, DWP, DfE and HMRC, will hinder our ability to meet these challenges including retaining older workers and incentivising training for employers and individuals.