In a new document set out by the Government, it has been revealed that employers will be given a “central role” in designing almost all technical courses by 2030 – a measure intended to create a skilled workforce.
The Government have now laid out exactly how skills and development will be improved in the UK, setting out the blueprint that the post-16 education system will take to create a workforce that is suited for specific roles.
As part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, employers will be given a “central role” by 2030 in helping decide how technical courses are laid out which is hoped to ultimately create skillsets based on jobs.
Other important measures include the heightened role of business groups which will work alongside colleges to develop tailored skills plans which is expected to support local training needs.
In addition, the Government also stated their intention of investing in high quality professional development including a new Workforce Industry Exchange Programme.
Prior to this, the Prime Minister announced that, from April 2021, the Government would fully fund technical courses for adult learners without an A-Level. The courses that are being offered to adult learners fall under various sectors including engineering, health and accountancy.
The Government have also set up a Skills Bootcamp which offers free, flexible courses of 12-16 weeks. This allows candidates to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer.
Furthermore, by September 2022, the Government plans to roll out newly approved qualifications which is intended to boost the quality and uptake of Higher Technical Qualifications. This will be incentivised through these courses potentially offering higher wages and directly correlating to the skill gaps employers face.
A flexible student finance will also be instated by 2025 to allow learners to train and retrain.
The Government stated their hope that these measures would show the importance of technical education and realign the education system around the needs of employers, leading to existing and future skill gaps being closed.
However, Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, said further support for businesses is required:
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.
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 organisation’s own skills deficits and development needs.
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.
Sarah Danzl, Head of Global Communications at Degreed, an upskilling platform, says:
It’s positive to see learning being recognised as a lifelong process by Government. We fully agree and believe that this should put a stop to the illusion that a degree is the only route to success and technical education is a second-class option.
However, Government is limiting its scope by solely focusing on learning in higher education settings. We must view learning as much broader than this – classrooms aren’t the only place people learn and we know that people continue to learn new skills throughout their working lives.
By only focusing on level 3 qualifications, we run the risk of overlooking other crucial skills that need to be developed to boost workplace productivity. Most importantly, this isn’t an opportunity for employers to shirk responsibility. They must be consistently tracking the skills their workers possess, identifying what’s needed for growth and providing upskilling opportunities. If this doesn’t take place, then we will face a skills deficit.
Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.