Putting people in charge of their own learning and careers
- Almost two thirds (£36billion) of total Government spending on education and training is committed to schools, whilst the Further Education budget has been reduced by one-third over this Parliament. As a result, the number of adults participating in learning has dropped by almost 11 per cent – that’s over 350,000 fewer adults in education and training.
- Government has earmarked £498 million for 2015-16 for 24+ loans for levels 3 and 4. However, we wouldneed almost 200,000 24+ learners to utilise this. We do not believe this is credible – only 59,000 learnerstook up loans in 13/14 and the provisional figures for 14/15 are showing similarly low take up.
- Employer investment in training has also fallen, meaning that total investment in skills does not match the scale of the UK’s learning challenge. So we need to urgently rethink how we resource the training of working age adults in this country, if we are to provide the skills our businesses and economy need to prosper and grow.
- Our 2014 Manifesto called for people to have access to a Personal Career Account. Mirroring the recently announced Help to Buy ISA (where the Government will top up people’s savings for a house deposit), this could be equivalent to a Help to Train ISA with the Government topping up individual’s and employers’ contributions. Over time, this could be supplemented by routing other public services through this account, such as employment support.
100 Day Actions
- Government should work with the Combined Authorities in our largest cities (London, Manchester and Birmingham) to help establish local pilots to give individuals a Personal Career Account to help fill existing skills gaps in key growth sectors. This would focus on supporting them to obtain signature qualifications so that they can fill those skills gaps that are holding back local businesses. This will be funded by the unallocated 24+ loans budget for levels 3 & 4.
- Make the current Learning Loan system more flexible allowing people to access financial support for bite-size learning and modules, rather than just full qualifications.
- Explore the ways employers can be encouraged to support their staff to gain new skills at intermediate and higher levels. This might include, for example, National Insurance Relief.
In the next in the series of blogs, Tom Stannard details how Personal Careers Accounts will create a ‘win-win’ for individuals, employers and Government.
Continuing our series of blogs discussing the ten policies we would like the next Government to introduce in its first 100 days, Shane Chowen makes a powerful case for an Apprentice Charter.