PM stresses importance of lifelong learning

10 November 2014

Encouraged by the glowing references made on the importance of lifelong learning, NIACE has responded to the Prime Minister’s speech at today’s CBI Conference.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“It is encouraging to hear the Prime Minister speak in such glowing terms about the importance of lifelong learning. I liked his emphasis that the old way of thinking – that you stop learning once you’ve started work is now gone. Today, everyone’s need to develop and improve their skills throughout their lives’ is how everyone should be thinking to ensure they have the knowledge and skills for a long and fulfilling career and for life. Employers have a huge role to play here. Where businesses invest in training for their staff, they not only get to fill skills gaps and skills shortages, but they also improve productivity, lower turnover of staff and increase morale. However, far too many businesses do not make that investment in training, which has serious consequences for sustainable economic growth, especially with 13.5 million vacancies expected over the next 10 years, but only 7 million new labour market entrants to fill those roles.”

Today also saw the publication by the CBI’s report – Better off Britain – which matches many of the priority actions for a skills-led recovery called for in NIACE’s Manifesto – Skills for Prosperity.

Productivity: Businesses should re-imagine and prioritise ‘employee value-added’ within their companies and supply chains specifically addressing job design, management skills, innovation and investment. This proposal links with NIACE work around longer working lives, the Mid-life Career Review, informal learning and around the FELTAG recommendations to use technology to offer more adults new opportunities to learn.

Skills: Expansion of work-based level 4 provision between businesses and F/HE, line managers to prioritise skills and career development, government to promote part-time study and remove Equivalent Level Qualifications barriers which prevent people undertaking courses at a level which has already been achieved and below – including fear of loan commitments. This proposal matches NIACE’s Manifesto call for new Personal Skills Accounts for all adults, for entitlements to career reviews to enable longer and fuller working lives and concerns over the current regulations for 24+ Advanced Learning Loans.

Skills: Launch a new government strategy for adult retraining – which ties in with NIACE’s Manifesto call for a major, independent review into the long-term skills needs and funding issues facing the UK over the next 20 years.

Skills: Incentivise FE to deliver in-demand provision by rewarding employment outcomes, matches the NIACE proposal for a new localism which integrates skills with economic growth strategies.

Education: Businesses should step-up on delivering work experience opportunities to young people and make stronger efforts to widen participation in internships, government should reinstate work experience in KS4. This correlates with NIACE work on 16-18 Apprenticeships and Traineeships, as well as with Care Leavers and Young Adult Carers.