NIACE at the 2014 party conferences

12 September 2014

NIACE’s bold proposals for a skills-led economic recovery outlined in its General Election manifesto – Skills for Prosperity –  were taken forward at fringe events at the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat party conferences.

Delivered by NIACE, in partnership with the AoC and 157 Group, the events focussed on the skills that employers demand from the education system. Participants had the chance to debate whether the curriculum, particularly for people aged 14 to 16, is fit for purpose in producing employable and entrepreneurial young people.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“Our three events are set against a backdrop of large-scale policy change within post-16 education over the past few years – the reform of qualifications, an increased emphasis on Apprenticeships, the introduction of schemes like Traineeships, the reduction in funding from government, the introduction of loans for students aged 24 and over and the burgeoning of new types of institution such as free schools and university technical colleges.

“Many of these initiatives are designed to support those whom Labour term ‘the forgotten 50%’. They aim to build skills for sustained employment within young people post-16. Given the rising levels of graduate unemployment and employer feedback we also know that those who follow a traditional ‘academic’ pathway through education are also not well served in developing these skills.

“NIACE’s manifesto calls upon each of the political parties to embrace a lifelong learning culture, setting out six priority actions which we believe will provide a skills system fit for the 21st Century. Our attendance at the Party Conferences, the last before the General Election next May, will provide NIACE with an important opportunity to help place lifelong learning firmly on the political agenda as the parties begin to finalise their own election manifestos.”

NIACE at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference

Discussion: The school curriculum does not prepare pupils for the 21st century

When: Tuesday 7 October, 08:00-09:00

Where: Morar Room, SECC, Glasgow

Chair: David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE

Speakers included:

  • Baroness Sal Brinton, Member of the Liberal Democrat Manifesto Working Group
  • John Cridland, Director General CBI
  • Toni Pearce, President of the National Union of Students (NUS)
  • James Kempton, Associate Director at CentreForum


NIACE was at the Labour Party Conference

Discussion: The school curriculum is not up to the job of preparing young people for the 21st century

When: Tuesday 23 September, 08:30-09:30

Where: Fairclough Site, Midland Hotel, Manchester

Chair: Dr Lynne Sedgmore CBE, Executive Director of the 157 Group

Speakers included:

  • Kevin Brennan MP, Shadow Minister for Schools
  • Louise Bamfield, Associate Director of Education at the RSA


NIACE at the Conservative Party Conference

Discussion: The school curriculum is not up to the job of preparing young people for the 21st century

When: Tuesday 30 September,08:00-09:45

Where: Hall 7B, ICC, Birmingham

Chair: Richard Atkins, President of the Association of Colleges

Speakers included:

  • Rt Hon David Willetts MP, former Minister for Universities and Science
  • Graham Stuart MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee
  • Brian Lightman, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL)
  • Jonathan Simons, Head of the Education Unit at Policy Exchange