Mark Dawe

@AELPUK publishes proposals for post-Covid employment and skills recovery package, calling for combined cross-departmental and devolved approach 

Britain’s response to the growth in pandemic-related unemployment requires a cross-departmental approach within government, according a new set of proposals published by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers.

The solution must start with identifying job opportunities and upskilling requirements as the core driver, not a generic skills or Work Programme with different government departments doing their own thing.  This requires sophistication and close engagement with employers and sectors, utilising live rather than lagged data.

AELP argues that a simplistic approach is unlikely to work because the experiences of different sectors of the economy have varied so much over the past three months. 

The availability of opportunity will also be driven by regional requirements involving the Mayoral Combined Authorities and others.  A live data set will be necessary to help identify which opportunities are available where and when, drawing upon a combination of sector-driven intelligence and on the ground opportunities from Jobcentre Plus and other sources.

 AELP’s proposed framework has identified the following priority groups who require support: 

  • those NEET / long term unemployed before the crisis, who will be pushed even further away from job opportunities
  • low skilled, recently unemployed individuals as a consequence of the Covid-19 crisis
  • higher skilled workers displaced by the crisis primarily due to a shrinking in the economy
  • young talent (16-24) many of who are entering the workforce for the first time
  • economically inactive going back into the workforce due to economic need.

The proposals recognise that many displaced workers will have skills which they consider are specific to the industry they work in, but are actually transferable skills  that will be of use and benefit in other roles in other industries.

Components of fresh approach

The AELP framework, which is based on soundings taken with training providers and awarding bodies, sets out an approach which covers: 

  • compiling a skills matrix/needs depending on sector variations (see more below)
  • a process of identifying customised support for each individual
  • methods of employment and skills delivery and assessment
  • types of support programmes needed
  • funding

Funding will be necessary for initial assessment, required delivery and final credentialing/accreditation along with any other support through to interview and employment. Ideally, these are consistently and adequately funded across all programmes with an appropriate proportion of outcome funding depending on the nature of the individual.

 AELP CEO Mark Dawe said:

 “We don’t think that there is time for new employment and skills programmes to be devised when we are plunging into what could be the worst recession in living memory.  But a sophisticated new approach is needed to maximise the economic impact from existing programmes and get as many unemployed people back into work as quickly as possible.

“This means central government departments such as BEIS, DfE and DWP working together closely with devolved authorities and education and employment providers in a way that avoids a hit and miss approach and which enables targeted support to reach priority sectors and individuals who need support.  Cooperation between Whitehall departments during previous downturns has a chequered history and we can’t afford to repeat mistakes in these unprecedented circumstances. 

“The AELP proposed framework has been submitted to government as a starting point for discussion and we are inviting stakeholders to get involved to move it forward.”   

Skills needs

Depending on the roles and opportunities that are becoming available across different sectors, there will be different skills needs, requiring a skills matrix.  Those that find themselves in need of a role are likely to have a mix of these skills already.  We have categorised these skills as follows: 

  • Basic skills and needs (literacy, numeracy and digital) and areas such as mental health
  • Employability skills: the skills needed to acquire a job (CV writing, interview skills, assessment skills, presentation skills, confidence etc.)
  • Essential skills: essential to operate effectively in the workplace/working world (team working, presentation etc.)
  • Sector-specific skills and will be determined by level (e.g. scissor handling for hairdressers, coding for digital etc.). For sector-specific skills a unitised approach to apprenticeship standards could be considered with an initial assessment and final assessment encompassing apprenticeship knowledge skills and behaviours in part or as a whole
  • Entrepreneurial skills: as the economy shifts it is possible that there will be a shift to greater numbers of self-employed individuals in certain sectors as the economic model changes and
  • Transferrable skills that will be of use and benefit in other roles in other industries. 

 

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