On Higher Education:

“The move to increase choice and competition across the Higher Education sector is positive, however, there needs to be ongoing scrutiny over the quality of graduate outcomes to ensure the reforms reduce the high proportion of graduates ending up in non-graduate jobs.

“In addition, the Government needs to increase its focus on improving the quality of apprenticeships and not just concentrate on reaching its three million target by 2020.

“The Government has stated that it wants parity of esteem between apprenticeships and Higher Education, with the stated aspiration that almost all young people will take either one option or the other at 18.

“However, currently six in ten apprenticeships generated each year are at Level 2, equivalent to just 5 passes at GCSE. We need far more Level 3 and above apprenticeships if they are really are to provide a meaningful alternative to university.”

On the problem of ignored productivity:

“Given that the UK’s productivity is continuing to stagnate, it’s hard to understand why improving workplace productivity doesn’t seem to figure in the Government’s priorities. Improving this is the key to increasing wages, enhancing services and building stability and success into the economy for the long term. Businesses – particularly small firms - need more support from Government to help them improve workplace practices that can unlock productivity improvements.

“Furthermore, we need an economy that creates more high-skilled jobs and a strategy to achieve this. The UK has the second highest level of over-qualification in the OECD, suggesting that making use of existing skills in the workplace through better leadership and people management, as well as job design, is just as important as increasing the supply of graduates.”

On the need to look at the whole of the workforce’s learning potential:

“There is still far too much focus on training ‘young people’ for entry to the workplace, but this is just the thin end of the wedge. To keep people in work, their skills fresh and to enable them to make a meaningful, productive contribution to work, businesses must take steps to develop them and encourage a culture of lifelong learning. This also means a much stronger Government focus is needed on developing further education and adult skills to support life-long learning.”

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