Government launches skills strategy White Paper

The Government has launched its national skills strategy
White Paper, 21st Century Skills – Realising Our Potential: Individuals,
Employers, Nation
, aimed at combating the national skills shortage.

It sets out measures which the Government hopes will deliver
the skills that individuals, employers and the nation require for a ‘socially
just and economically successful society’.

The White Paper also announced a new partnership between the
Government, the CBI, the TUC and the Small Business Council – the Skills

It will drive the strategy forward and ensure skills needs
are identified, mapped out and met to increase national productivity and the
employability of individuals.

Education secretary Charles Clarke said skills help
businesses compete, aid individuals in improving their employability, and
provide a route to a better life.

"Increasing the nation’s skills levels is not about
piecemeal initiatives,” he added. “It’s about a partnership between the
Government, business and the unions, working together to forge a skills

Key reforms

Delivering skills for individuals:

● Introducing free learning to any adult without a
good foundation of skills for employability, to help them achieve a full level
2 qualification (5 GCSEs or equivalent)

● New opportunities for adults to gain qualifications
in technician and higher craft and trade skills through a level 3 qualification
(2 A-levels or equivalent) in regional or sectoral skills shortage areas

● Funding a new £30 weekly grant for adult learners in
priority groups to support them in studying full-time courses in further

● Expanding the Adult Basic Skills campaign to make
information and communications technology the third essential ‘skill for life’
alongside numeracy and literacy

● Lifting the age cap for modern apprenticeships so
that people over the age of 25 can learn skilled trades

● Safeguarding leisure, culture and community learning
– focusing on pensioners, those on low incomes and benefit recipients in

● Reforming adult information, advice and guidance
services to help adults into learning, and ensure that individuals can find out
what to learn, where to learn and what they are entitled to.

Delivering skills for employers:

● Rapidly expanding the Sector Skills Council (SSC)
network to identify, map and meet key skills needs in employment sectors. The Department
of Trade and Industry and the Department for Education and Skills will team up
to help drive the SSCs

● Learning from the employer training pilots as a
basis for developing a national programme for employers to deliver training in
the way they want it, particularly for low-skilled employees

● Reforming qualifications to make them more
employer-friendly and responsive to employer needs, by helping employers to
package training units in different areas to form the training programme that
best fits their needs

● Ensuring greater employer involvement in the design
and delivery of modern apprenticeships

● Developing business support services with a ‘no
wrong door’ approach, so that employers know who to turn to for help on skills,
bringing in a wider range of intermediaries and sources of help, and joining up
the work of Business Link, local Learning and Skills Councils and JobCentre

● Publishing an Employers Guide to Good Training,
bringing together clear information on everything employers need to know to
improve the skills of their workforce

● Introducing a new people management and leadership
drive, working with Investors in People.






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