· 2 min read · News

Skills for Jobs could lead to more equal opportunities


The government has announced new upskilling reforms that may help HR pursue equal job opportunities for its employees.

Details for the prime minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee (LSG) were outlined in the Department for Education’s (DfE) Skills for Jobs White Paper launched yesterday (21 January).

Reforms aim to revolutionise post-16 education by giving adults, no matter where they live or their background, the opportunity to gain the skills needed to progress in work at any stage of their lives.

Under the LSG, government will shift focus from universities towards further education and technical qualifications, aiming to challenge the attitude that a degree is the only route to success and a good job, and that further and technical education is the second-class option.

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the Institute of Student Employers, said the reforms were welcomed but that they must be fully funded and supported.

He said: “Employers are engaged with apprenticeships, but the current system is not working for them and needs reform. So far government rhetoric on vocational education and apprenticeship has been accompanied by bureaucracy and too many policy changes.

“This has resulted in a decline in apprenticeship numbers, rather than an increase.”

Adults without a full level 3 qualification (A-level equivalent) from April 2021 will now have the chance to gain one for free in a range of sectors including engineering, health and accountancy.

Further reading

Online learning could boost nation’s career prospects

Upskilling and keeping staff engaged through COVID limbo

UK’s persistent digital skills gap poses risk to economic recovery

Skills Bootcamps will also be available, and will offer free, flexible courses of 12-16 weeks that will aim to give adults the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer.

However, as the measures focus only on sectors needed by the economy, and put control in the hands of employers, the LSG has come under criticism that it is taking some autonomy away from jobseekers.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) said the funding does not live up to the hype from ministers.

“Working people want a chance to plan their own career,” she said. “But this employer-led approach leaves people too little control over their learning and skills.

“Workers need fully-funded rights to lifelong learning and retraining, so they can plan their own future in our fast-changing economy.”

Job losses caused by COVID-19 have meant upskilling has become important for the recovery of hiring and the economy.

In October last year the CIPD said that many of those who have lost their job due to the pandemic have been left without the necessary skills to secure a new one.