In response to our discussion paper on skills and training, we received submissions from 100 CPF groups representing 115 constituencies and at least 945 members across the country. This number included 16% under-25s and a further 11% aged 25-40. Since last year’s general election a total of 172 CPF groups, 198 constituencies and at least 2,260 members have participated in CPF policy discussions.
Our questions spanned three important areas: Productivity & Globalisation, Changing Skill Requirements and Technological Change. What follows is an overview of the key points raised. A more detailed collation of policy suggestions has been sent to the Director of the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit, the CPF Chairman and the Party Vice-Chairman for Policy. We look forward to publishing a formal response in due course.
Section One: Productivity & Globalisation
- Careers advice and guidance offered in schools and universities, as well as to people in-work, is not fit for purpose and needs to be dramatically improved.
- Schools must be incentivised to promote vocational courses more and degree courses less. Apprenticeship schemes should be externally audited for quality.
- The vision should switch from “half the population to University” to “half the workforce in graduate level skills acquisition and maintenance programmes”, including conversion and returner programmes.
- Training bonds should be utilised to retain the people we train in this country.
- Businesses could sponsor degrees in return for learners making a time commitment to the sponsor with repayment of fees should they leave.
- All Government Departments and those in receipt of public funds should be required to offer apprenticeship contracts.
- Carefully review how productivity is measured before potentially wasting millions of taxpayers’ money on pointless initiatives based on flawed measures.
- There are two essential aspects to improving productivity: increasing capital investment and more efficient use of physical assets and employees.
Section Two: Changing Skill Requirements
- There needs to be a rebalancing of funding away from Higher Education and towards Further Education. Strongly advocate the principle of “earning while learning”.
- The main emphasis needs to be sectoral. Those who need the resource of a skilled workforce need to be involved both in shaping the training and in taking ownership of delivering the outcomes.
- Lifelong learning is a personal responsibility with delivery through private sector organisations or professional sector groups in the public service.
- We need to rethink the entire education programme.
- Schools and universities should collaborate more with companies so that employers have contact with pupils and are involved in planning curricula, and academia does not become out-of-date.
Section Three: Technological Change
- Minimum pay levels should be raised by legislation and improved transition support be given for people who lose their jobs as they learn new skills for a new job. The focus should be on addressing poverty, not reducing income gaps.
- Access to re-training and good careers advice should be lifelong.
- Import new ideas by allowing free movement of those at the top of all sectors, while reducing our reliance on imported skills by improving training and productivity.
- Our approach must be one of high “value added”.
- Do not lose sight of basic education, so that far fewer young people leave school with poor or no qualifications.