Reasons to be cheerful about next five years, say training leaders

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Written by Seun Robert-Edomi on 19 February 2015 in News
News

Employment and skills issues are at the top of the political agenda as we move towards the next general election. Developing skills and improving productivity are also at the core of sustainable growth. That means there are significant opportunities for good quality providers delivering government employment and training programmes over the next five years despite the continuing budgetary pressures on Whitehall departments

Training providers can be at the centre of that debate and be the key driver to grow the programmes which will deliver improved skills for individuals and employers. 

This will be the key message from the leadership of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) today at its 2020 Vison Conference and Debate on Employment and Skills in London which is looking ahead at what needs to be done to ensure that more employers, learners and the unemployed benefit from high quality programmes under a new government.

Employment and skills issues are at the top of the political agenda as we move towards the next general election. Developing skills and improving productivity are also at the core of sustainable growth. That means there are significant opportunities for good quality providers delivering government employment and training programmes over the next five years despite the continuing budgetary pressures on Whitehall departments.

AELP will highlight that all of the main political parties are committing to grow the apprenticeship and traineeship programmes as stated priorities with the additional government investment. Training providers would have to deliver a 10 per cent annual increase in apprenticeship starts during the next Parliament.

Providers have also welcomed the focus on the need for greater integration of employment and skills programmes, currently split between BIS and DWP. AELP believes that if real progress is made on this front, significant savings on the operating costs of programmes can be made by both providers and the taxpayer, while employers will be less confused by the number of different schemes to choose from.

The AELP leadership set out for delegates the likely policy context which will shape the environment in which providers will be operating over the next five years. This covers:

  • challenging budgets for the duration of the Parliament
  • moves to fund the customer directly, e.g. loans and employer ownership of skills funding
  • higher quality benchmarks for providers to meet
  • continuing drive to generate new initiatives
  • possible devolving of procurement to city regions and LEPs
  • a danger of government departments not working together.

At the 2020 Vision Conference, AELP will emphasise the need for the changes to apprenticeships to build on good practice with reforms being evidence based and constructive.

AELP CEO Stewart Segal said: “Today we will be debating how we can reform the employment and skills system over the next five years to reduce unemployment faster and respond to employer demands on skills. Key to this is preserving flexibility and customer choice when the new government brings forward proposals for change. Despite the pressures on funding, AELP is confident that providers can and will deliver more, but ridding the system of some of its complexities would go a long way to making that happen.”   

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