The call follows the business secretary, Vince Cable's, recent appeal to the Treasury for the forthcoming Government spending review to invest more in training, "if we are going to get the economy going".
In a summary manifesto document launched today at the annual conference of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), the providers' body has set out 10 key points of action, which it feels should be adopted by the main political parties. These cover:
- Making young people 'work ready' by the time they leave school.
- Targeting more resources at apprenticeships and the new traineeship programme.
- Tackling the NEET issue by focusing on real work experience with employers.
- More coherent procurement of skills and employment programmes across the business, education and work departments to correct a fragmented and inconsistent approach.
The AELP is also recommending further progress in funding skills programmes, which reward good quality providers who successfully engage with local employers.
This includes introducing a level-playing field on funding for independent training organisations and further education colleges.
AELP chairman, Martin Dunford, said: "It is vital that scarce Government funds are rigorously targeted on apprenticeships and traineeships as the highest priority skills provision and that this targeted funding is properly made available to those providers with the demand from employers and best able to deliver successful outcomes.
"The level playing field necessary for this to happen is undoubtedly better balanced than in the past but we are still not there yet."
Dunford added: "We cannot continue to have providers of any type underperforming - yet retaining funding - while others are unable to obtain the resources they need to meet the immediate demand from employers, potential apprentices and those needing a traineeship to avoid joining the unacceptably high cohort of 'NEETs'."