29th September 2020

Education Policy Institute response to PM’s plan for skills

Commenting on the government’s new adult education and skills measures, outlined in a speech from the Prime Minister today (29th September 2020), David Robinson, Director of Post-16 and Skills at the Education Policy Institute (EPI) said:

“While it is important to wait for the full details, these new measures are a positive step from the Prime Minister. Compared to other developed nations, there is a chronic lack of basic qualifications and skills among adults in England – our research shows that as many as 1 in 3 adults do not have a qualification equivalent to A level or above.

“There is significant employer demand for these qualifications, and research shows that they lead to higher wages and productivity. It’s right that the government is working closely with employers to establish a list of technical courses that will be part of this scheme.

“It’s important that we reduce the barriers to access for adults, so that they are able to take up these new education opportunities. Although the government has offered flexibility in study time and location, it must also ensure that living and other support costs should not get in the way of those wishing to improve their qualifications, otherwise many will struggle to access these courses. That is why we have called for the government to offer maintenance support for adults studying these qualifications.

“The timing of this scheme, beginning in April 2021, may prove costly for those immediately out of work over the next six months. With the bulk of these qualifications requiring a year or more of study and difficult labour market conditions expected to persist, the government should consider what support it can offer to help bridge the gap between studying and finally securing a job.

“In the long-term, if delivered effectively, the Lifetime Skills Guarantee will boost skills and may help many people to retrain and recover from the effects of the pandemic.”