From education to employment

Lords Blunkett and Johnson to speak at Mind the Skills Gap event

Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament

Lords David Blunkett and Jo Johnson are set to speak at a panel talk in Parliament focussing on the role colleges and the FE sector can play in fixing skills gaps in the labour market.

The Mind the Skills Gap event next Wednesday (1 March) is the first in a series of campaigning activities hosted by Association of Colleges, Association of Employment and Learning Providers and City & Guilds under the banner of the Future Skills Coalition.

The former Labour education secretary and former Conservative education minister have both recently authored major reports on the education and skills systems and will be joined on the panel by the chair of the all-party group on Further Education and Lifelong Learning Peter Aldous, as well as the chief executives of AoC, AELP and City & Guilds.

The coalition was formed last October to highlight the fact that too many people cannot get the jobs they want because they don’t have the skills they need. To address this, the Future Skills Coalition is calling for:

  • A right to lifelong learning – that would help reverse the historic and damaging decline in the number of adults upskilling, retraining and filling vacancies in key skills shortage areas.
  • Fair, accessible and effective funding – to ensure colleges have the resources to recruit the staff needed to teach subjects in key skills shortage areas.
  • A national strategy to support local, inclusive growth – that would support colleges to meet skills shortages in their local economies.

Kirstie Donnelly, City & Guilds Chief Executive said:

“City & Guilds are delighted to be part of the Future Skills Coalition, working together, with employers and the rest of the sector, to create a sustained model for future skills development. With the Chancellor’s Budget statement just a month away, the event being held on the 1 March is an important date for us to collectively push for a more determined debate focussed also on lifelong learning to address vacancies and skills shortages in the economy.”

Jane Hickie, AELP Chief Executive comments:

“If we’re serious about ending the country’s skills shortages, we need to turn ten years of underinvestment into a long-term commitment to sustain skills for the future. That means delivering a right to lifelong learning, having a national strategy to support local, inclusive growth and – perhaps most importantly of all – ensuring we have a fair, accessible and effective funding system in place. The Future Skills Coalition lobby of Parliament on 1 March is an important opportunity for us all to put forward our arguments about why this is so important for the future direction of the country.”

David Hughes, AoC Chief Executive said:

“The skills shortages facing employers are only going to grow. Key sectors including digital, health, energy and construction are acutely feeling the pressure and putting their services and businesses at risk. As we transition to net zero, face up to health and care demands and cope with or even embrace technological changes, those skills shortages and gaps are likely to increase. Colleges and the FE sector are vital players in helping people get relevant skills as they enter work, but also in helping adults re-train in new skills for new jobs and roles. Colleges and other FE providers need more investment from Government to be able to train and educate more young people and adults in the skills and disciplines that matter most in the labour market and economy. The Chancellor has talked a great game on the importance of investing in skills, but we need his warm words to be backed with cold hard cash if he is serious about boosting productivity and growing the economy.”

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