Twas (almost) the Night Before Christmas...2017

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Twas (almost) the night before Christmas, and all through the House (of Commons)
Not an MP was stirring, not even a mouse
Stockings were hung by the Parliament chimney with care
In hope that St Nicholas would soon be there

Ministers were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of policies danced round in their heads
So looking back now at the year 2017
What good, bad and ugly skills and employment policy have there been?

Let’s start with the levy that came into force
Well government says levy, I say tax of course
Manufacturers made plans to embrace this new tax
But I’m afraid to report it’s been an anti-climax 
Apprenticeship starts saw a 59% drop
So the story to date is that it’s a bit of a flop
If government wants to give it a fighting chance
Then our 6 levy changes are worth taking a glance.

There were the annual increases to the National Living Wage
And the other increases to pay based on age
We repeated our calls to the Low Pay Commission
In what we consider to be wonderfully detailed submission
That the increases to date have been fairly ok
And along the planned trajectory the LPC should not stray
The question on employers’ minds, and yes they have plenty
Is what will happen to the rate after 2020?

Sticking with pay, but looking at reporting
We had concerns gender pay gaps could be distorting
Only a handful of companies have published to date
And we’re hoping manufacturers don’t leave it too late.
It’s important to remember its not unequal pay
And where we don’t have many women our figures may
Show a higher gap that average but please don’t forget
The challenge to get more women into engineering is truly set.

We also had the Matthew Taylor Review
Did he offer recommendations, of yes just a few!
Reforming employment status and protections for those 
On zero hours contracts were both things proposed
No government response published as of yet
Early in the New Year would be a reasonable bet.

Now I don’t want to go too much into Brexit
But I think it’s worth nothing the quite significant exit
Of EU nationals leaving the UK
The referendum and exchange rate no doubt factors at play.
But of concern to manufacturers will of course be
Their ability to recruit and find talent locally.

And speaking of talent guess what we got?
An actual careers strategy, ding ding jack pot!
It all seems to be moving in the direction
But I just want to focus on a particular section
That covers the part about changing league tables
As vocational education has got a bit of a label
To being second rate to academic learning
So changes to the league tables we all have been yearning.
So rather than saying it’s something government will review
It’s just something everyone is shouting “do, do do!”

I better wrap up, otherwise this will never end
And I’m guessing the rhyming is driving you round the bend
But just before you go a quick gently plea
Is to not forget our views on industrial strategy
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
See you in 2018, Love From All the Policy Team here!




Head of Education & Skills Policy

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