Substantial changes in the way in which the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and Skills Funding Agency (SFA) operate in support of schools, colleges and other providers come into force in August.
James Blackhurst, managing director of Jigsaw Training, based in Preston, Lancs, issues a note of caution that the effects could discourage SMEs from committing to training and re-skilling for those over the age of 25.
He said: “The youth of today are critical to meet future skills needs. However, we need a balanced workforce and we should not forget we have many experienced, skilled people aged 25 and over who have much to contribute.
“It has been recognised that organisations which respond appropriately to the challenges of an ageing workforce will gain a significant competitive edge, both in terms of recruiting and retaining talent, but also through supporting the well-being and engagement of employees of all ages.”
Following the recommendations of the Wolf Review, the EFA will move to funding based on students rather than qualifications – possibly the most radical change in further education funding for 20 years.
Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) indicates that by 2020, one in three workers will be aged over 50.
James Blackhurst added: “Some employers are dealing with issues around the ageing workforce, however many appear to be doing very little. The principal hurdle seems to a lack of awareness of the demographic flux, combined with a lack of ability to manage the employee development and training implications.
“Research tells us that employee participation in training remains relatively steady from the recruitment of workers in their 20s up to their early 50s, when it starts to fall away.”
The SFA will also introduce a new ‘streamlined’ system and stop funding training providers for courses at Level 3 and above for people over the age of 23.
James Blackhurst added: “While there is a need for the Government to focus on value for money and growth, is 25 years of age and above not too young to be classed as irrelevant to the future growth of the economy?”