Ben Willmott, head of public policy for the CIPD
"The ambition of the paper is to be welcomed in setting out some key ‘levelling up’ missions for example on skills, and improving pay and productivity and measures of wellbeing in every part of the UK.
"Further devolution can potentially help boost local investment in skills development and support job creation and productivity. However, this will depend on sufficient additional funding being made available for this purpose and would be undermined without broader changes to skills and employment policy at a national level."
“The paper recognises that skills are a crucial driver of economic disparities between people and places but fails to address some key long-standing problems with the skills system that underlie these inequalities.
“However, the announcement of a Future Skills Unit is a positive step and it is to be hoped that it can take the lead on advocating overdue changes to skills policy to address skills gaps within sectors and regions. For example, there is a glaring need for improvements in careers advice and guidance in schools, as well as major changes required to the apprenticeship system including to the levy. There is also the need for further thinking on how employers, particularly SMEs, can meaningfully engage with the further education system."
On pay and productivity
“There is a vacuum around plans to boost pay and productivity beyond increasing R&D investment outside the South-East. R&D investment is of course important, but the benefits can take many years to materialise and are typically quite narrow, limited to relatively few larger companies or narrow sectors.
“There is a pressing need to improve the local business support services typically available to firms, to encourage and enable many more employers across regional economies to invest more in the technology, management capability and workforce development required to boost firm-level performance and wages.”