From education to employment

Our world is an unequal one: How education can help close British economic inequality gaps

Following two years of political, social and economic disruptions, The Government announced its Levelling Up White paper earlier this year.

With talks of widespread devolution and the recognition of skills in socio-economic development, the white paper shared an optimistic view on opportunities development but left questions on how such proposals would successfully be delivered.

Now, two months later and as Ofgem increases the energy price cap by 54%, a cost of living crisis has the country gripped, with nationwide poverty gaps only growing. 

How wide are UK poverty gaps?

The variation in household income between regions and countries in the UK is increasing, with factors such as ethnic groups and disability status further exacerbating this. Those households in the North East, alongside households from a Pakistani ethnic group had the lowest median incomes before housing costs.

This is a contrast to the South East, the wealthiest region in the UK between April 2018 and March 2020, who have experienced a rise in median wealth by 43% since 2006.

Now, amidst skyrocketing energy bills, inflation, tax hikes and stagnant wages growing food insecurities and both fuel and food poverty is widespread, with those on lowest income most heavily affected.

Despite being the fifth wealthiest country in the world, the UK now has four million children experiencing food insecurity, alongside a 33% annual increase in demand for food parcels, according to one of Britain’s biggest food bank networks the Trussel Trust.

Something must be done to support the recovery and security of the British economy and those individuals living within in.

How can education help close poverty gaps?

In 2016, The World Economic Forum highlighted the ability for education to affect a country’s productivity, increasing the collective ability of the workforce to carry out existing tasks more quickly, facilitating the transfer of knowledge about new information, products, and technologies, and increasing creativity. The combined effects of education and it’s boost on economic output offer better opportunities on both an individual and societal level.

While it’s clear that skills are being prioritised by The Government, with the Autumn Budget, Levelling Up and The Spring Statement collectively shedding a light on the power of upskilling and training in solving current economic crises, it is now key that providers offer an educational resource that is accessible.  

How can education be made most widely accessible?

With the Levelling Up white paper bringing talks of a new digital education service, the role of online ITP’s is pivotal in the mass upskilling and opportunity development for British people – subsequently supporting the economic recovery of the nation.

Providers like The Skills Network offer high quality learning experiences made accessible via digital means. The role of digital in modern education is key, allowing individuals and businesses around the country to upskill through the most accessible means, regardless of location and lifestyle.

With extensive learner insight The Skills Network offers flexible and individually tailored learning experiences for the real person – whether that’s a busy parent, a home carer or those working in full-time employment. This alongside unlocking government funding streams, upskilling with digital bootcamps, delivering on digital apprenticeship schemes and utilising resources and tech to help, The Skills Network deliver a range of training programmes to suit all people.

Where once education may have been inaccessible, with the lives of the learner unable to accommodate regimented learning times and classroom environments, The Skills Network is championing a digital first learning approach, providing highly flexible, tailorable, expert and supportive learning experiences.

The role of modernised educational resources and online learning experiences will be pivotal in offering attainable training opportunities to the masses and helping to close widespread poverty gaps.

As we navigate challenging economic periods and look towards a more settled economic future, the education sector has a responsibility to support, and The Skills Network looks forward to continuing offering one of the most accessible digital learning resources in the country.

Mark Dawe, Chief Executive Officer at The Skills Network

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