Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, commented: 

“Putting employers at the heart of the further education system and giving them the opportunity to shape training courses and qualification provision is a significant step forwards. It will help to close the growing skills gaps that many organisations say are holding them back, and to give a clearer path to work for those coming through the educational system. And it should help to revitalise our technical and vocational education system that has fallen behind and lacked focus and investment for too long.

“This is a key part of the solution to tackling the UK’s skills development and productivity deficit and equipping people for changes to the world of work driven by increased use of AI and automation.”

“The plans to facilitate much greater local employer engagement with colleges is important. Businesses everywhere rely on local talent and need to work closer in developing skills in their communities. The CIPD will be keen to support through our UK-wide branch network of HR and learning and development practitioners and consultants.

“However, many organisations, particularly smaller firms, will need support and help as well, for example in how they best engage with the new College Business Centres.  Many struggle to clearly identify their organisations own skills deficits and development needs, which is one reason why there has been a long-standing fall in employer investment in training in the UK.

“Access to specialist HR and people development expertise will be needed if they are to engage meaningfully with colleges and also ensure that people’s skills are used effectively in the workplace so investment in training is not wasted.” 

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