Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith
Chair, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE),
and former president of the British Chambers of Commerce
Businesses in this country are still struggling with the cost of living crisis and desperate for skilled workers to boost their productivity and bottom lines.
Businesses must be empowered to tackle these problems through a world-class skills training system that drives growth and opportunity for employers, learners and the country.
The need for a unified skills system
Apprenticeships are much better now because they are designed by employers to meet their training needs. Apprentices also benefit because they learn the skills businesses value.
T Levels are transforming classroom-based training, and new Higher Technical Qualifications are making a difference at an advanced level — where our economy lags behind competitor countries.
However, progress made with those employer-led programmes is still being hampered because of the array of other skills training qualifications out there. There are thousands to choose from. Many are good, but the quality is mixed — so, to put it bluntly, it’s almost impossible for businesses and trainees to figure out what would work for them and what’s a waste of time.
All skills training must be guided by
businesses that know their sectors best.
Standardised, world-class training
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) recognises that this needs to change fast. It is why we have just published our vision for a world-class, simpler skills system.
This will involve making sure all government-funded training meets the same set of rigorous employer-defined standards. Everything from level 2 (GCSE equivalent) to degree level will — from this year onwards — need approval from IfATE and our network of employers.
Accessible and reliable opportunities
Opportunities for people to progress across various types of training and up the skills levels — so they eventually get highly skilled jobs — will also be set out clearly in IfATE’s occupational maps. These are being made very easy to access and navigate on tablets and smartphones.
They will be launched over the summer. We expect them to form the foundations for skills and career advice provided by schools, colleges, job centres, UCAS and any other government and education bodies involved with helping people make the right choices.
We must finish the job with employer-led reforms. All skills training must be guided by businesses that know their sectors best and understand what it takes for training to be truly fit for purpose.
Giving employees and trainees a reliable skills system, which links up better and is easier to use, is the best way to boost productivity and support people from all backgrounds to reach their potential.