Saturday, October 24, 2020

Commissions calls for £4.2bn annual skills investment to combat COVID, reboot economy

The Future-Ready Skills Commission is calling for £4.2 billion of skills investment a year to reboot the economy and help the UK recover from COVID-19.

In its final report, the Commission makes nine key recommendations designed to create a devolved skills system designed around people, businesses and local economies.

“The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt hardest by the most disadvantaged in the labour market. We can see the economy transforming in front of our eyes, with whole industries and sectors being decimated,” said Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the Future-Ready Skills Commission and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, and Leader of Bradford Council.

“Unless we can support people with skills and training in a way that fits with the reality on the ground where they live and work, we risk damaging the life chances of a whole generation.

“We need a radical change in attitude towards skills and training, enabling life-long learning, empowering people to take up their skills entitlements from school to retirement, and employers that value investing in their staff.

“As our report argues, the UK’s skills system has to be based on the needs of the people, businesses and local economies it is intended to serve if we are to build an economy that works for everyone.”

The report, ‘A Blueprint for a Future-Ready Skills System’, recommendations are:

  • Ensure the funding system offers fair access regardless of age, level of attainment, background and learning route alongside reversing the long-term decline in adult training
  • Empower areas to design services around the individual to address complex and interrelated health, employment and skills issues
  • Everyone should have the right to quality information about jobs and careers, no matter what their stage in life
  • Employers should take greater ownership of their talent management and skills development, aided by a joined-up approach to business support that means they can find the help they need, regardless of the route they take to find it
  • In order that people can gain the right skills needed for good quality work in their area, all adult skills and careers funding needs to be devolved
  • Recognise that areas are best placed to understand their own skills requirements and implement statutory five-year strategic skills plans to make it happen
  • Ensure that training meets the current and future skills needs of regional labour markets, delivery agreements with skills providers should be put in place, supported by investment funding
  • Large-scale public infrastructure projects designed to level up areas should include an additional skills premium of up to 5% of the total budget to maximise their economic potential
  • The Apprenticeship system needs national review to make it work more effectively, and this should include recognising and resourcing areas as the key route to employers and individuals

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