Ben Willmott, head of public policy for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, comments:

On skills

"We welcome the ambition to put employers at the heart of the skills system and ensure local skills provision meets local business needs. However, without a fundamental rethink of the Apprenticeship Levy, plans to boost employer engagement with local education and training providers are likely to be fatally undermined.

“The levy is failing to deliver the right results for learners and employers. We need an effective skills system more than ever if the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda is to succeed. 

“A more flexible training levy would enable employers to invest in other forms of accredited training and development, and would maximise opportunities for employers to work with their local further education colleges and universities.  

“Instead, employers are currently losing £1bn a year on levy funds they can’t spend because the scheme is too inflexible. This money should be going towards other forms of adult skills investment and training and could supplement the new flexible loans for adult learners.” 

The CIPD shared analysis this week which showed that employers have lost £2bn over the last two years as they struggle to spend their Apprenticeship Levy. More here.

On the Employment Bill

“Today’s announcements were a missed opportunity to confirm the Government’s commitment to measures in the Employment Bill. Improving labour market enforcement, flexible working and enhancing leave for carers are key issues for working people and the ambition to build back better. 

“The labour market enforcement system in particular is broken and requires urgent attention to boost state-based enforcement and address the weaknesses in the employment tribunal system. This is already close to breaking as demand rises from people seeking redress over breaches to employment rights, with many employees waiting more than year for tribunal cases to be heard. 

”It’s crucial Government moves quickly to tackle these issues as the pandemic and its aftermath will create employment relations challenges for employers and increase the risks that workers’ rights could be undermined.” 

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