5 things we want to see at the Skills Summit

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Tomorrow the Department for Education will host a Skills Summit, aimed at launching a ‘skills revolution’ with the help of employers. The new Skills Partner programme is partnership between employers and government, to design and deliver the reforms to technical education so we have access to the skills to compete, innovate and grow.

So given the Department wants employers to get involved, here are five things we want to see tomorrow from Justine Greening:

1. Announce how the income from the Immigration Skills Charge will be spent

Earlier this year in April the government introduced the Immigration Skills Charge, which meant employers recruiting non-EEA nationals would have to pay £1,000 per employee, per year. To date the government has failed to disclose exactly how this will be spent. Earlier this week we repeated our calls on how government should deploy the monies from the skills charge, read Verity’s blog on what the government should do.

2. Don’t delay T Levels further and ensure the mandatory work placement works for business and learners

For a long time we’ve heard commitments to give further education and vocational training the same parity of importance as A Levels and higher education. The introduction of the new T Levels was a step in the right direction. It is therefore vital that T Levels are not delayed any further as it sends the wrong message to employers, and STEM subjects are prioritised. Furthermore, the government should allow for a flexible approach to delivering the mandatory three month work placement and give UTCs a greater role in delivery of T levels and the number of UTCs should be expanded where there is sufficient employer and learner demand.

3. Support manufacturers to retrain existing workers

The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy has consumed many manufacturers’ training budgets, with a third saying they have absorbed the cost of the Levy within their training budgets. As a result, many employers now have less to spend on other forms of training. However, with an ageing workforce and a clear shortage of skills within the industry, it is imperative that manufacturers are supported to train their existing workforce and ensure those skills are not lost.

Earlier this week, the government announced a new national retraining scheme. While we await the detail of the scheme, we do know it will prioritise sectors where there are major skills gaps kicking off with construction and digital skills. We think that engineering must too be viewed as a priority sector to help reduce the acute skills gap in our sector.


4. Ensure the Apprenticeship Levy fulfils its underlying principles and gives employers flexibility

The Budget was a missed opportunity to give employers the flexibility they need to spend their Apprenticeship Levy and create more quality apprenticeships. In our Budget submission (link to the budget submission) we called on government to refer back to the Levy’s underlying principles, including create a genuine market in training, which has yet to prevail.

Making changes now to the mechanics and flexibility of the Levy has the potential to create more high quality apprenticeships. Check out our 6 months on, 6 things we still want from the Apprenticeship Levy to see what manufacturing wants to happen next on the Levy.

5. Drive up numeracy and literacy skills in schools

A basic level of English and maths is a requirement for any new entrant into manufacturing whether through an apprenticeship, full-time employment or other form of training. Yet 41% of young people left education with a grade A*C in English and maths last year and only 66% gained 5 good GCSEs including English and maths at grade 4 this year.

The current approach to improving basic skills (continuous resitting of exams for those that fail to achieve the grades first time) is not the best way forward and is a distraction from one of the major problems – the quality of teaching in our schools. Too many teachers are teaching subjects without a post A-level qualification in their discipline. Over a quarter of maths teachers do not hold a post A-level qualification in their subject, increasing to 38% for physics. This must change. The government must set a target for teachers to hold at least a post A level qualification in the subject they are teaching.



Keep an eye for our reaction to the event later this week @EEF_Economists



Education and Skills Policy Advisor

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