The Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing the world of work at rapid pace and driving up the level of skills required. But this picture is complicated further by declining levels of adult participation in learning precisely at the time it needs to be going up. The UK skills situation is made more challenging by a ‘missing middle’ in education, a skills gap that businesses can ill afford and a key blocker to worker progression.
Reacting to change, businesses are committed to training and developing their workforces, but the delivery is a more complicated picture. Apprenticeship routes are growing, but many firms still have a heavy reliance on informal training and on-the-job development.
A new era of partnership between business, government, and employees offers opportunity. Employers have a unique relationship with their employees and can use this to support, guide and provide learning opportunities. In addition, government can help to influence behaviour change and plug important gaps under the convening power of the National Retraining Partnership.
A crucial priority is a flexible and responsive skills systems that is aligned to the needs of the economy – and we must ensure that the positive direction of ongoing reforms work to support this vision, with learners and employers the focus.
We’ve called on employers to:
- Offer careers advice to all employees at regular check points throughout their careers
- Improve the clarity on internal development routes, and default towards opening all new vacancies to internal applicants
- Improve awareness and accessibility of training and development opportunities.
We’ve called on government to:
- Develop a nationally recognised skills ‘passporting’ tool as part of the National Retraining Scheme to help ensure informal training and skills are recognised in future employment
- Ensure all parts of the government are aligned expanding the National Retraining Partnership to encompass all departments with a stake in the labour market, such as BEIS, MHCLG, and DCMS
- The National Retraining Partnership should develop a new lifelong learning strategy to join up government policy and support upskilling and retraining
- Be transparent about the Apprenticeship Levy budget to help develop a shared understanding of how the Levy can meet employer skills needs at all stages of somebody’s career
- Ensure funding for level 2 and 3 qualifications through the National Retraining Scheme is protected and enhanced following the Post-18 education review.