The Queen’s Speech has outlined the Government’s priorities for the coming year which includes a skills “revolution” in the form of flexible loans and a promise to strengthen jobs.
Written by ministers, the Queen’s Speech today has documented what laws the Government intend to pass over the coming year.
Announced in the House of Lords, the Queen stated that the lifetime skills guarantee, announced by the Government last year, would be upheld. This would entail flexible access, for all people, to high-quality education and training throughout their lives.
This will be used to provide the equivalent of up to four years’ study and can be used for full-time or part-time courses. Businesses and trainers will be encouraged to target “local needs in sectors including construction, digital, clean energy and manufacturing”.
The Prime Minister himself stated that this would be the “rocket fuel” needed to level up the country and argued that this challenges the “outdated notion that there is only one route up the career ladder”.
Agata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA, Skillsoft, welcomed this news, stating:
With digital transformation encroaching on all industries, the announcement today promising a skills “revolution” for England, with loans for adults wanting to retrain and more powers to deal with failing colleges, is very much welcomed. This is a vital step in growing the skills of tomorrow as well as supporting the UK economy to build back up after a year of turmoil.
The Queen also expressed the Government’s intention to invest in new green industries in order to create more jobs. This is in line with other environmental aims that the Government wish to meet including achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
It was also said that a law will ensure National Insurance contributions relief for employers of veterans.
However, laws that were not mentioned, as some had hoped, included policy to tackle “fire and rehire” tactics used by some employers, such as British Gas, during the pandemic. The TUC has said that, over the past year, one in 10 workers have been forced to choose between accepting worse employment conditions or face losing their job due to these practices.
In addition, a right to disconnect law was also omitted – though the Queen did state that more laws would be put in place to make the Internet safer.
Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), also noted the lack of an Employment Bill within this speech:
We were surprised by the lack of a specific Employment Bill in the speech – but we hope the commitment on plans to support jobs and improve regulation will see key issues tackled in the near future.
A Bill is long overdue. It was due to contain a number of measures to extend and protect workers’ rights, and create a Single Enforcement Body to tackle abuses in the labour market – and could also have provided further guidance on flexible working and the regulation of umbrella companies. We hope to hear more about these issues from government as they can’t just be side-lined as the labour market recovers.
Mr. Carberry also praised the Government’s plans to “work on reducing ethnic disparities in the economy” which he hoped would include the introduction of mandatory ethnic pay gap reporting as a way to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Overall, the Queen’s speech and the impending laws mentioned cemented the Government’s motto to “level up” and “build back better” after the pandemic and the disruption caused by this.