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DfE and IfATE launch groundbreaking new Skills Classification project

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The Department for Education’s Unit for Future Skills (UFS) is being joined by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) to lead the next phase in the development of a new way of describing and measuring skills used in the UK jobs market.

This project will develop the UK’s first Standard Skills Classification (SSC), providing a common skills language to support a world-leading skills system and careers advice service.

The new classification will build on IfATE’s current Occupational Standards, supporting businesses, training providers and learners to have a clear idea of what skills are needed to succeed in the UK economy.

The follows research from academics at Sheffield University, Warwick University and Omnifolio commissioned by the UFS within the DfE and published in October 2023: plan for building a UK skills classification

Work is commencing on Phase 2 of the project in March 2024, with a prototype Skills Classification to be delivered in the Autumn ahead of a full launch in 2026.

The new project work will be enhanced by the use of artificial intelligence, including Large Language Models, which will enable significant resource savings on a project of this scale.

A Standard Skills Classification will:

  • Provide the UK with a comprehensive list of skills and associated knowledge required to carry out job-related tasks, using a consistent language for skills needed across the economy.
  • Create a detailed resource of skills information for the UK economy, built directly with employers and IfATE’s occupational standards, alongside international best practices on skills classification.
  • Build on IfATE’s occupational standards, supporting their work to link the occupational standards to wider data sources, such as vacancy and employment data.
  • Help to identify where change is needed to support the economy, ensuring occupational standards, apprenticeships and technical qualifications meet employers’ current and future skills needs.

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon said:

“It’s more important than ever that we make the value of skills as clear as possible to learners and employers, helping match the right skills to the right jobs and boosting UK productivity.

“I’ve been a champion of skills for my entire parliamentary career, and I’m really glad that IfATE is working with our Unit for Future Skills on this important project. This new Classification will help to showcase the value of skills across the board, enabling better understanding between businesses and training providers and allowing people to climb the ladder of opportunity towards a career that suits them.”

Chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education Jennifer Coupland said:

“The quality of apprenticeships is higher than ever because they are now defined by employers who understand best where the skills gaps are and what trainees must learn to be valued in the workplace. As we bring that same employer rigour to classroom-based technical qualifications, we must also make it easier for individuals and businesses to understand what’s available and how it will benefit them. The Standard Skills Classification will play an important part in underpinning the new skills system.  IfATE is proud to play a leading role in this important work.”

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