NIACE response to refreshed skills strategy

3 April 2013

NIACE has responded to the Government’s Rigour and Responsiveness in Skills paper, published on Wednesday 3 April. Alastair Thomson, NIACE’s Principal Advocacy Officer, said:

“The publication of this paper is helpful in the run-up to June’s Spending Review as it affirms the importance of public investment in skills as a precondition for economic growth and recovery.

“Also helpful is the fact that it is co-published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education. This is a welcome attempt at policy coherence between Whitehall silos. However, it is curious that the funding table at the end of the document covers only BIS budgets. We are no clearer, for instance, on how much the DfE will be contributing to Traineeships.

“NIACE would’ve liked to have seen a clear link between skills policy and higher education policy. The economy needs skills at all levels and the inclusion of HE in this strategy would have been extremely useful.

“We are also concerned to see a lack of acknowledgement that lifelong learning is more than about vocational competence. Education is also about knowledge acquisition, helping people develop their potential and enabling them to contribute to community or civic cohesion and social mobility. Public funding for further education should have something to offer those ‘beyond the labour market’ as well, whether they are retired or unable to work due to ill health. Effective advice and guidance are crucial for all people, whatever age and however they may want to contribute to society. It’s disappointing that the paper didn’t emphasise this more clearly.”