NIACE calls for adult skills revolution

23 September 2014

NIACE has responded to Ed Miliband’s speech to the Labour Party Conference in which he stated his intention to match the number of young people on Apprenticeships with those in Higher Education.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“It is great to hear the leader of the opposition focusing on skills and learning as critical issues for our country, for sustained and fair economic growth and to address inequalities. We support those ambitions and the belief that a better skills system which stretches and motivates every young person is vital. But, we don’t only need an Apprenticeships revolution; we need an adult skills revolution as well.

“We want to tackle low pay and secure the future growth of our economy. And we know that to do that we need fundamental changes in culture and the learning and skills system. We set these out in our manifesto and believe that there must be a commitment to support the talents of all people and of all ages for a truly lifelong learning society.

“We say this because there are an anticipated 13.5 million job vacancies over the next 10 years, but only 7 million young labour market entrants. That requires us to make Apprenticeships – and other forms of skills training – available for people of all ages to help fill the gap. This will also help fill the one million high-tech skills in the green industries and for other new jobs which haven’t been invented yet. Otherwise the UK economy will have overwhelming skills gaps and skills shortages that will undermine the future well-being of the country. Closing the adult skills gap is an absolute priority for the next Government.

“We are keen to support the next Government’s ambition on apprentices by implementing an Apprentice Charter. This will be written from the perspective of each apprentice and signed-up to by Government, employers, learners and providers. It will enable them to see what each Apprenticeship will involve, setting out the opportunities, experiences, support and feedback an apprentice can expect at different stages. It will also give the apprentice a clear understanding of the contribution they must make.

“We are determined that all people ‘get a shot in life’ and not just all young people. What’s needed is not just an Apprenticeships revolution, but an adult skills revolution that unlocks the talents of all. We need a new dynamic skills system, fit for the 21st Century, giving everyone the opportunities to improve their skills for long and fulfilling careers which might mean seven or eight employers and different sectors. This will not only tackle the cost of living crisis and low wages but also ensure that we secure the future for the economy and society.”