The Prime Minister has announced the introduction of a new ‘Lifetime Skills Guarantee’. The new range of measures – which include providing adults without an A-Level free college courses and the expansion of the number of free online courses via the Skills Tool kit – are an effort to support the recovery of the UK economy post COVID-19.
The prime minister also announced that the government will make higher education loans more flexible, allowing young people to space their studies out across their lifetimes. These measures are due to be introduced from April 2021 in England.
The CIPD welcomes this announcement but reiterates that this must just be the start of further investment and reforms that ensure young people gain the skills and training they need to find employment.
Young people are set to be disproportionately affected by the impact of the pandemic and the associated economic recession. Latest figures show that between May – July 2020 there was an increase of 36,000 individuals aged 16 – 24 that were unemployed. Concerningly, many more redundancies are predicted by employers in the coming months.
Peter Cheese, CEO of the CIPD, states that while the announcement of greater investment in skills is welcome, ‘more training and employability support will be required to ensure that the many people who have lost their jobs or who are made redundant over the winter can develop the skills they need’.
Cheese continues, ‘Sustained learner engagement will be a tough nut to crack, as it needs a dedicated campaign and substantial investment in learner support to facilitate informed choice, retention and completion’.
In order to urgently boost training and reskilling, the CIPD are calling on the Government to take three further actions to help those that have either already been made redundant, or look set to lose their job in the coming months.
These three steps are:
- Reform the apprenticeship levy to make it more flexible so firms can use it for other forms of accredited training and skills development, including for employees working reduced hours under the Job Support Scheme, or for those being made redundant
- Invest £1bn in enhancing the Jobcentre Plus Rapid Response service to fund bespoke sector-based training and employability support for up to 250,000 workers who are made redundant
- Provide funding to enable small and medium sized employers using the Job Support Scheme to use online training to develop the skills of their workers on reduced hours under the scheme when they are not working
The economic crisis we are currently experiencing follows a long-term decline in the amount of investment in training and life-long learning in the UK. Cheese reiterates that ‘further investment and policy innovation in these areas will enable, incentivise and fund employers as well as individuals to invest in their own development and the skills employers need’.
Read Peter's full response to the announcement in his latest blog.
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At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.