New skills strategy

07 March 2013

Asset Skills has welcomed the Government's new skills strategy which looks set to keep employer input at the core of training and vocational qualifications development

Asset Skills has welcomed the Government's new skills strategy which looks set to keep employer input at the core of training and vocational qualifications development

Skills for Sustainable Growth and its parallel publication, Investing in Skills for Sustainable Growth, were launched by Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable and Skills Minister John Hayes.The strategy sets out their vision for reform of the further education and skills system in order to improve workforce skills, the performance of the economy and engagement in learning.

Investing in Sustainable Growth outlines how Government seeks to achieve its objectives through investing strategically in FE and skills over this Spending Review period. Savings will have to be made, but the Government understands the importance of maintaining high levels of participation and performance and will continue to look to Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) to ensure that Apprenticeship frameworks and national occupational standards are updated to meet the needs of the facilities management (FM) and cleaning industries in the face of new market conditions and increasing competition.

Richard Beamish, chief executive of Asset Skills, the Sector Skills Council for FM and cleaning, said: "We are encouraged by this announcement. It shows the Government is recognising the role we can play as an SSC in helping employers lead and influence change on skills and training issues in their industry." Further education, skills and lifelong learning minister John Hayes, said: "The Government's skills strategy is one of the most important documents yet published by the coalition Government.Helping business and individuals gain the skills they need is vital to helping the country gain economic strength and build sustainable growth in the long term.

"Despite a reduction in the FE and skills budget,we are continuing to protect and invest in programmes that provide the highest quality and greatest benefit to the maximum number of people.Replacing Train to Gain with funding for work place training prioritised on SMEs will help employers with a small workforce train low-skilled staff.And as we continue to expand apprenticeships and reinvigorate community learning more people will be able to build their skills and fulfil their potential.

"The acquisition of skills enables people to progress in learning and work and delivers social benefits too. I want to see the development of a culture of learning with individuals and employers driving forward the skills system and contributing to the learning they receive."

The reform of the skills systems includes: Expanding the numbers of adult apprenticeships available, so by 2014-15 there will be 75,000 more adults starting than under previous plans; 200,000 adults will be able to start an apprenticeship.The Government will invest £605 million in adult apprenticeships in the 2011-12 financial year Improving the apprenticeships package, so that level 3 (A Level equivalent) becomes the level to achieve, and there are clear progression pathways Fully funded training for young adults aged from 19 up to 24 undertaking their first full level 2 (GCSE equivalent) or first level 3 qualification when they do not already have one; Fully funded basic skills courses for individuals who left school without basic reading,writing and mathematics Protecting investment of £210 million in adult and community learning, to support personal development, inclusive communities and a route into formal learning for the disengaged Introducing Government-backed loans from 2013-14 for learners aged 24 and over undertaking level 3 or higher qualifications.This will give people access to finance.They will not have to make their contribution to costs of the course until they are reaping the benefits of it and earning a decent wage Initiating a demand-led growth and innovation fund of up to £50 million of government investment a year, to support employer-led initiatives within sectors such as new professional standards, and to promote leadership and management in small and medium enterprises Replacing Train to Gain with an SME focused programme to help small employers train low-skilled staff Helping people who are on active job-seeking benefits to secure work through labour-market relevant training; and Reducing bureaucracy in the sector.Colleges and training providers will be freed from red tape so they can respond to the needs of employers and learners.The complex funding system will be simplified and from the 2011-12 academic year there will be a single adult skills budget A copy of Skills for Sustainable Growth and Investment for Sustainable Growth is available to view on the BIS website: /news/topstories/2010/Nov/Skills-for-sustainable-growth The recent Spending Review set out that by 2014-15 the further education resource budget will be reduced by 25 per cent. In the 2011-12 financial year, the Government plans to invest £3.7 billion in further education and skills for post-19 learners supporting capacity for over 3 million training places in the 2011/12 academic year funded through the Skills Funding Agency.

The Skills Strategy says Sector Skills Councils will be expected to "bring forward proposals for professional standards to the new Growth and Innovation Fund and to feed in information to the Next Step programme about careers options and the qualifications needed for a career in each sector".

It supported national skills academies as an integral part of support to sectors as specialist, employer-led delivery organisations.Many of these would be as subsidiaries and delivery arms of their Sector Skills Councils,working through networks of selected specialist providers to develop and deliver tailored skills to meet employers'needs and stimulate increased employer investment.