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

On education and skills - Increasing the number of high-quality apprenticeships for young people

“The focus on boosting the number of high-quality apprenticeships for young people is positive but will be fundamentally undermined unless there is action taken to reform the Apprenticeship Levy into a more flexible training levy. The levy in its current form has incentivised too many employers to rebadge training as apprenticeships as a way of developing typically older, existing employees. This is an expensive and inefficient way of upskilling existing staff and takes valuable potential apprenticeship funding and opportunities away from young people.”

On welfare reform - Helping people with a long-term health condition or disability into employment

“There was also a welcome reference to welfare reforms to help more people into work. However, this will require ensuring there is effective, bespoke support to help people with a long-term health condition or disability into sustainable employment. Just as importantly, there’s a need to support the creation of more flexible jobs and other measures to help prevent people falling out of employment for health reasons. We hope the Chancellor will follow this up with the announcement of effective proposals to boost employers’ access to quality occupational health advice and support, particularly small employers.”

On mental health - Support for people with poor mental health

“Missing from the speech was a Mental Health Bill, which received pre-legislative scrutiny but hasn’t made it into the final Kings Speech of this parliament. Recent CIPD figures showed workplace absences are at a record high with poor mental health and stress being two of the leading causes. For employers, and crucially those individuals that are affected, more sustained action on mental health is long overdue.”

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