Crucial role for PSD in meeting skills challenges

23rd July 2015

A new National Standard is essential for Personal and Social Development (PSD) learning to help meet significant skills shortages in the workforce and give people the confidence to progress in work and in life. This is the headline recommendation from NIACE in a new report published today Thursday 23 July 2015.

The research, by NIACE, shows that PSD provision is making a positive difference to peoples’ lives and employment prospects. But the access to PSD is arbitrary and far too many people are missing out.

Alongside the call for a National Standard for PSD, NIACE also recommends that:

  • BIS should commission the development of a more effective initial assessment tool for PSD/employability skills; and
  • the Skills Funding Agency should identify if the level of need for PSD learning can be matched by current provider capacity and funding.

Stephen Evans, NIACE Deputy Chief Executive, said:

“Employers regularly talk about the importance of employability skills and how a shortage of such skills can hold workers back. As employability skills can be acquired through Personal and Social Development (PSD) learning, it is surprising that more attention has not been given to the best content and ways of delivering PSD. After researching PSD delivery, we are proposing a National Standard which will underpin quality and an effective common assessment tool, to make sure people get the right help at the right time. 

“More effective initial assessment is likely to identify more learners with PSD needs. If we are to eliminate employers’ concerns, the Government must ensure resources are made available to meet this demand which will also help deliver its commitment to full employment. Government also wants greater independence and responsibility for individuals in a range of areas – from public services to pension choices. PSD will help deliver that greater independence and responsibility. There is much good practice to celebrate. But we have much further to go to make the most of this and ensure people get the support they need, when they need it, to achieve their goals in life.”

Charlotte Bosworth, OCR Director of Skills and Employment, said:

“With Industry regularly telling us that the values, habits and ‘soft skills’ are often lacking when recruiting, a report that looks at the quality of PSD and employability skills qualifications is welcomed.  We want to ensure that such qualifications serve the needs of the learner and secure a better chance of employment.  To have a diagnostic that ensures they are on the most appropriate course and an adult skills budget that allows providers to make decisions right for each individual are recommendations I would support.’

Jo Booth, Talent Match Programme Manager at Sheffield Futures, said:

“The introduction of a National Standard for PSD supports issues raised by young people in Sheffield about who is checking that the programmes are fit for purpose. We have young people who have completed many ‘Employability Programmes’ and are still not in employment or training resulting in further emotional well-being and motivation issues. It is vital to improve the quality of – some – provision and a National Standard will support that. Building better quality and consistency in the curriculum can only help to support wider skills acquisition.”

Kate Massey, curriculum team leader, Justice Sector, The Manchester College, said: 

“It is important that developing a National Standard for PSD is recognised as an integral part of sustainable employability-skills. Especially where there has been an extended period of incarceration and/or unemployment.”