Following the Queen’s speech yesterday, The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) has called for more to be done to achieve a higher-skilled economy.
The coalition government yesterday announced plans to have two million apprenticeship starts by the end of this parliament. Provisional figures show that there have been more than 1.7 million starts so far.
Despite this news, NIACE deputy chief executive, Tom Stannard, says more needs to be done to implement a new skills system that meets the needs of all people of all ages.
“It is good to see further investment in apprenticeships, aspirations for delivering the best skills for young people and proposals to better prepare them for the workplace. But the strength of the economic recovery is going to rely on more than young people,” he said.
“People will not only have to work for longer, but will also need opportunities to improve their skills throughout their working lives, especially as we move to a higher-skilled economy and developments in technology continue.
“We would urge the government to consider tax relief for skills training – as this will help more people get into and progress in their careers. We will be publishing a manifesto next week – ahead of Adult Learners’ Week – detailing six priority actions that we believe the next Government must take. These actions are essential if we are going to achieve a sustainable recovery which will bring prosperity for all.”
Looking over the longer term, Stewart Segal, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), said: “The coalition government’s commitment to growing apprenticeships is right for sustaining the economic recovery by giving employers the skilled workforces they need. We need to substantially increase the size of the programme and the government’s proposed reforms for apprenticeships should be built around employers having a choice on how they are funded. At the moment, there is a danger that the current proposals will reduce the number of businesses involved in the programme and result in fewer places available for younger apprentices.”
Katerina Rudiger, head of skills and policy campaigns at the CIPD, said that the need for greater apprenticeship provision in the UK is clear. She welcomed the ambition to deliver two million apprenticeship to start over this parliament.
“It is vital to continue to ensure that apprenticeships are high-quality and responsive to the needs of employers. This will mean continuing to engage employers in developing training programmes for each of the apprenticeships frameworks, giving them the level of co-investment and the impetus they need to ensure the training their apprentices receive benefits their organisation and the apprentices themselves.
“It will also be vital to ensure smaller employers are encouraged to provide more high-quality apprenticeships, and given the information and support they need to do so.”