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

“The Government’s growth ambitions won't be realised unless improving workforce skills and training is placed at the heart of its three growth priorities - energy, infrastructure and innovation.

“Ensuring young people leave the education system with the skills they need is of course vital, but at least 80% of the 2030 workforce are already in employment. There needs to be a stronger focus on addressing the long-standing obstacles that have held back vocational education and training across the workforce and contributed to rising technical skills shortages.

“Crucially, urgent action is required to reform the Apprenticeship Levy which has failed on every measure and will continue to undermine investment in skills and economic recovery without significant reform.

“There is also a need to work with the regions to radically improve local business support services to encourage and enable many more firms, particularly smaller businesses, to invest in the skills, management capability and technology needed to boost productivity.”

On the DWP review into labour market inactivity

“It’s important the review into labour market inactivity considers issues around job quality and flexibility, as well as the individual support that people might need to enable and encourage them into employment. Evidence shows that working parents, carers and older workers particularly value, and are more likely to need, flexible working. This highlights the importance of the Government meeting its previous commitment to help create more flexible workplaces.” 

On the uplift to the National Living Wage

“The uplift to the National Living Wage will be welcomed by those on low pay. However, it could prove a huge challenge for small businesses to afford this mandatory increase on top of other rising costs. To be able to afford this increase, improving business productivity must be a key focus for the Government and smaller firms in particular, who are already having to do more with less.”

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