Queen’s Speech

27 May 2015

Responding to today’s Queen’s Speech, David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said: 

“The reference in the Queen’s speech today on ‘productive potential’ is a useful reminder of a critical malaise in our economy. Productivity is too low and relatively low skills levels in the workforce are hampering innovation and efficiency gains. It is exciting to see a new Government set out to tackle this as one of their most important ambitions because we know that a new culture of lifelong learning supporting greater skills investment by employers and individuals are vital parts of the solution.

“To achieve three million new Apprenticeships in five years will be a challenge, but will also be a significant achievement. We expect the Budget in July will offer a tough settlement across all unprotected public services, so we welcome the Government’s continued commitment to Apprenticeships. The Queen announced that the Government will legislate to require Government ministers to report annually on the number of jobs and apprenticeships created. This is a good opportunity to secure apprenticeship growth for all ages and in sectors relevant to local labour market skills shortages, matched with our proposals to ensure every apprenticeship is high quality and leads to a sustainable job after completion, career progression and with it rising wages and productivity. We would also like to see reports on wider skills investment in the public sector to address the productivity issues.

“The Queen also announced legislation to reform the welfare system to encourage people in to work and ensure all young people are earning or learning. As a society, there are compelling economic reasons for strengthening the learning-earnings link regardless of age. But the reality is that our employment and skills systems operate too independently which means people don’t get the right support, slip through the net and find that they can’t progress up the career ladder. For low paid workers, NIACE proposes to create a Careers Advancement Service offering 1:1 support for people on in-work benefits to get the guidance and skills they need to progress. For people with disabilities, we’ve proposed to reform Employment Support Allowance to enable people access training and work by integrating health, skills and employment support. And for young people, we welcome proposals for a Youth Allowance for 18-21 year olds. We outlined how this could work in practice in Ten Policies for Ten People.

“Increasing apprenticeships, integrating employment and skills services for better outcomes, achieving full employment and, in the words of Her Majesty, realising our “productive potential” needs strong and empowered Cities which is why NIACE supports the announcement today of legislation to continue to devolve powers through elected Mayors across England. We strongly believe localised services can better meet the needs of local economies; get the right help to people furthest away from the labour market and help alleviate Britain’s productivity crisis.”