Adrian Anderson, Chief Executive, University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC)

The Government’s Approach to Adult Skills 

There is much to welcome in the Prime Minister’s announcements on Adult Skills. England needs better technical education and a better approach to Adult Skills. A Lifetime Skills guarantee makes sense, as do better credit transfer arrangements, better access to loans for individuals following higher technical qualifications and greater availability of bite sized, segmented and short programmes of study.

UVAC believes in, and will support our members, to deliver this agenda.

In taking forward its proposals the Government will need to pay attention to the following issues:

1. Adult Skills Policy and Provision Needs to Focus on the Needs of the Economy

The key driver for adult skills provision must be to ensure individuals have the right skills for high productivity jobs and to delivery high quality public sector services. This means provision should be based on current and future employer skills needs evident nationally and / or locally.

Level 3 provision will be important, but in many cases adults will need upskilling or re-skilling for a level 4, 5, 6 or level 7 role – in engineering, healthcare or the digital sector, for example.

As the Chancellor has made clear England needs to train people for high productivity jobs.

Covid 19 has hit low paid and insecure jobs the hardest and post-Covid we must support individuals train and retrain for more secure and high productivity occupations. To compete internationally England needs ambition and post-Brexit we must go way beyond focusing adult skills provision on level 3 skills.

2. Avoiding Distractions

Arguably, the biggest failure of the English education system is that after 11 years of compulsory education a third of young people do not gain a full level 2 qualification. No one would argue that individuals without level 2 qualifications do not need support.

It would, however, be a tragedy if adult skills policy was to become a sticking plaster to fix poor school performance.

Schools should ensure all pupils gain a full level 2 qualification. In contrast, adult skills policy must focus on up skilling and re skilling the workforce for occupations needed at levels 3 to 7 to raise UK productivity and deliver key public sector services.

3. Who Pays and for What Provision?

Government has made a bold commitment that adults over 23 without a full level 3 qualification will be offered a level 3 technical qualification for free.

Rightly, Government also wants individuals who wish to follow higher technical qualifications to have better access to loans. This though is just scratching the surface of the issue.

A national conversation is needed on who pays and for what; Government, individuals and employers?

How could Government incentivise employers to invest more in training individuals for new green economy, digital or logistics roles?

Poor management skills are a key causal factor for low UK productivity. Adult skills provision must therefore have a focus on enhancing management skills.

Should skills need (defined by skills gaps and shortages) rather than the educational level of a programme be the key factor in determining the extent of the Government financial contribution to an adult skills programme?

4. Adult Skills Policy Must Focus on Further and Higher Education

Further Education should be celebrated and needs to be better funded, but further education does not equate to adult skills. Approaches to upskilling and re-skilling will be needed at all levels and will require the expertise of colleges, universities and commercial training providers. We must place the needs of the economy before dogma. England needs an Adult Skills White Paper not a Further Education White Paper.

We need both colleges and universities to be the go-to organisations for employers wanting to upskill and re-skill the workforce.

This will call for new partnerships and innovative ways of developing and designing new, bespoke programmes delivered through flexible work-integrated, online as well as classroom-based programmes, building on existing good practice.  

Short, bite-sized programmes as part of a credit accumulation and transfer system is something UVAC has been pushing for years. Not surprisingly we fully support the Government’s emphasis on the importance of such programmes and such a system.

Adrian Anderson, Chief Executive, University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC)

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 2 hours 52 minutes ago

RT @ClearlySo: The UK #EdTech sector grows to £3.5bn as demand surges for digital classrooms and AR - @FENews #educ…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page