Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity & Growth white paper published

Posted 25.02.2021

 The long awaited Skills for Jobs white paper was published in January 2021.  The drive of this White Paper is to strengthen links between employers and further education providers (something we’ve talked about for years).   Sensibly employers will help to identify the skill needs of the locality, and education providers will be tasked with meeting those needs.   This policy will enable a new role for Chambers of Commerce and other employer facing organisations e.g. the Federation of Small Businesses to bridge the skills gap and therefore improve productivity.

The Government plans to support their delivery through £1.5 billion of capital funding to improve the condition of further education colleges, a further £291 million to support 16-19-year-olds and £375 million to deliver our contribution to the Plan for Jobs in 2021-22 and start delivering our Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

“As the rate of technological change increases, further education will be crucial to building an agile and adaptable workforce. Provision will be flexible – whether full-time or part-time; on-the-job or off-the-job; a first ever job, or a change of career. Everyone will have the chance to retrain, update their skills and move into growth sectors, when they need to.

This White Paper is not just about a new economic dawn for the country, crucial though that it is. At its most fundamental it is about fulfilment and enrichment on a personal level. For too long we have squandered much of our latent creativity and talent: this White Paper will be the lever to unleash it. It will ensure that people can learn the skills they need to get great jobs, as well as provide the means to plan a fulfilling and productive life”

Rt. Hon. Gavin Williamson CBE MP
Secretary of State for Education

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has been in dialogue with the Department for Education (DfE)about the potential for the 53 English accredited Chambers to have a formal role in the English Further Education (FE) system.

Government is considering commissioning Chambers of Commerce to play a formal, statutory role in shaping FE provision in their areas. Chambers would use knowledge and convening power from their vantage point as an authentic voice of business in communities across the UK.

The central theme of this White Paper is ensuring education and training meets the immediate and future needs of employers. In order to facilitate this, DfE are piloting Local Skills Improvement Plans. This pilot proposes a role for accredited Chambers of Commerce in identifying local skills priorities and working with other stakeholders on how best to address these in a way that is tailored to the local area.

The White Paper advances a clear policy that skills planning should be localised and have a powerful employer voice at its heart. To achieve this, DfE will need powerful, established employer representative organisations that already have this voice to play a more important provision-shaping role than in the past.

The British Chamber of Commerce has undertaken confidential conversations with a group of Chamber Chief Executives, including Scott Knowles (East Midlands Chamber), and DfE to develop the programme of work and identify costs for BCC and each Chamber involved. This small working group from the network will continue to refine how the policy develops.

DfE are yet to confirm the potential funding envelope that will be attached to such a role, but it has the potential to bring a transformational amount to each Chamber involved.

This work stream does have a number of identified risks in regard to reputation and some political issues that need consideration. This role does have the potential to fundamentally change Chambers relationship with LEPs, local Government and FE colleges who form part of all Chambers membership. It is essential that the independence to advocate for skills and other core business issues remains undented as a result of this new role for Chambers.

Skills for Jobs White Paper

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