Budget must tackle adult skills crisis

16th February 2015

NIACE has released its 2015 Budget submission to HM Treasury calling on the Chancellor to help people and businesses trapped by low level skills. Evidence from the OECD shows that the UK is declining in performance in literacy, numeracy and intermediate skills and languishing at 19th out of 34 countries for low skills.


With insufficient numbers of young people entering the workforce businesses will increasingly find it hard to find skilled staff. This makes the economic case for resources to be focussed on skills and support for people of all ages and for those already in the labour market.


David Hughes, Chief Executive at NIACE, said:


“The Skills crisis is at the top of every discussion about a stronger and more sustainable economy, and the UK is suffering with chronic low skill levels. Our proposals match the rhetoric on skills with tangible policy solutions to better help millions of people trapped in low paid, low skilled jobs. We want to see productivity boosted through a new National Advancement Service that could help 5 million low paid workers; an Apprentice Charter so employers and apprentices get the most from the experience and a Citizen’s Curriculum approach to basic skills provision for ESA claimants.”


“The imbalance in skills funding between younger entrants to the labour market and a comprehensive, all-ages approach needs urgent attention. We call on the Chancellor to back our proposals and build stronger foundations for a higher skilled, higher earning Britain.”


NIACE’s Budget 2015 submission recommends:


  • Trials for a new National Advancement Service. Based on proposals NIACE submitted last week, a National Advancement Service would provide tailored advice and development for Britain’s 5 million low paid workers.
  • Extending the Apprentice Charter across trailblazers as a co-designed mark of high quality between employers and learners, increasing standards across the board.
  • Piloting a Citizens’ Curriculum for Employment Support Allowance claimants because current employment programmes are not delivering for disabled people.
  • Local partnerships to make loans work so that providers and employers can work together to turn around falls in participation in learning since loans replaced public funding.