The Select Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision was appointed by the House of Lords on 9 May 2018 “to consider the long-term implications of Government policy on intergenerational fairness and provision.” Today (25 Apr) they publish their recommendations.
In response, Julian Gravatt, Deputy Chief Executive at the Association of Colleges, said:
“Society is changing and young people of today will be working later into their lives than previous generations. At the same, economic uncertainty means that we need to have as many skilled people as possible – colleges will be central to this.
“The cuts to the education system have had big implications over the last decade. Many young people are leaving education without the qualifications needed to get on in life. Some of the ones who are gaining degree qualifications are often finding themselves in low-skilled jobs.
“We need change and we need it now. To ensure that our young people aren’t short-changed compared to previous generations, we need to invest heavily in our education system. The upcoming Spending and Augar Reviews are good opportunities to address the imbalance by increasing the amount spent on 16- to 19 education, as well as recruiting and retaining specialist staff.”
Educating generations for the 100-year life
Education in schools
The Government should ensure that young people are provided with sufficient education about housing and other practical finance matters before leaving school. The Government should make PSHE a statutory subject inspected by Ofsted.
Increased housing and financial education within PSHE would be helpful. Local organisations should, where possible, be brought into schools to signpost young people to suitable financial education resources, including relevant advisory bodies.
The apprenticeship system is confused. It is not adequately serving young people or apprentices retraining later in life. Apprenticeships should develop skills for those who need them, including routes to technical and craft careers. Resources raised via the levy should not be used to rebadge training that would occur anyway. There is too little monitoring and too little focus on quality and outcomes. We note the number of changes in the system in recent years, but do not believe failed experiments should be used as a pretext for deferring effective reform. The Government must improve the quality of apprenticeships to deliver real skills for lifelong and fulfilling careers and ensure they are focussed on those young people, and re-trainers, who are not well served by other education routes. It must review and remove reported bureaucratic barriers to the provision of apprenticeships by employers.
The Government should substantially increase funding for Further Education and vocational qualifications. Many students would be better served by pursuing vocational educational pathways. The current system of funding and access is inefficient, complex and risks perpetuating unfairness between those who access Higher Education and those who do not. We must rebalance the value attributed to Higher Education and Further Education.
The qualifications that young people leave education with do not always match the needs of the labour market. Post 16 educational providers and the bodies that regulate them should seek to link educational outcomes more closely to the labour market.
Lifelong learning is a cause for serious concern. We are concerned that existing policy is inadequate and will not meet the need for growth. Lifelong learning over the lifecourse will become more important as more people lead longer working lives. The Government is failing to grasp the scale of lifelong learning required to cater for people living longer and for technological change.
The Government’s National Retraining Scheme should be extended and scaled up to prepare for the challenges of an ageing workforce and technological development. This should be targeted throughout the lifecourse and must adequately reach those who are not employees.
The Government should consider new incentives to encourage people in lifelong learning. The National Retraining Scheme alone will not suffice. The Government should implement a cohesive lifelong learning strategy following on from the results of the review of post-18 education.
Working in the 100-year life
Slow pay progression is a particularly acute concern for young people. This is a real challenge, as slow pay progression can have serious consequences for progression through life. Business’ best practice for encouraging pay progression should be shared. Acting on the recommendations proposed for lifelong learning will aid progression through the lifecourse.
Insecurity of the job market
Insecure employment is concentrated in the younger part of the age spectrum. While this may not be a problem if insecure work is performed alongside studies, it poses a problem when it accounts for a young person’s only source of employment.
Denying workers the rights that come with worker status fails to protect them from exploitation and poor working conditions. This disproportionately affects younger people. There should be an assumption of the employment status of ‘worker’ by default, in order to make the rights and protections that come with this status enforceable, without interfering with the rights of those who genuinely wish for selfemployed status to adopt it.
The timetable should be released for when the research commissioned into those workers with uncertain employment status will be published and when it will make a decision on bringing forward legislation.
Flexible working and mid-life career reviews
The Government should work with employers to ensure that more jobs are advertised as flexible. The public sector is leading the way in flexible working. Wherever possible, public sector jobs should be advertised as flexible.
Mid-life MoTs can play an important role in preparing people for a longer working life. Mid-life MoTs cannot be a one-off, discrete event, and are most effective when viewed as part of a process of good management.
The Government’s efforts to encourage mid-life MoTs are in danger of missing those most in need of support, including individuals who work for employers that lack the capacity to provide mid-life MoTs and those outside the workforce.
On the other hand, providing a single statutory MoT at a fixed age to every employee would lack flexibility and might lead to waste. If MoTs are to be introduced effectively, the Government needs to give a good deal more thought to how they should operate.
Notwithstanding the increase in employment of older people, ageism remains a problem within British society and is affecting the ability of some people to continue working into later life, despite long-standing laws against age discrimination. Discrimination in recruitment is a particular problem. More should be done to recruit and retain older workers.