MPs believe that not enough attention is given to the requirements of adult learners in the UK, and that too narrow a focus on the 14-19 age range could threaten adult training.
This is one of the key findings of Skills: A Parliamentary Perspective, a report sponsored by the City & Guilds qualifications body and carried out by the National Skills Forum and Associate Parliamentary Skills Group.
Other key recommendations:
Small businesses hold the key to the future success of the English economy. They are not currently engaged with training providers in any meaningful way. The government should step in and remove some of the risks firms face in training their employees by making the training tax-advantageous.
The quality of and access to information, advice and guidance regarding careers must be improved for both the old and young.
Careers advice should be provided to children at an earlier age, with many MPs calling for these services to begin in primary school.
Gordon Marsden MP, chair of the Associate Parliamentary Skills Group said: “We should not forget the skills needs of adults, especially in light of changing demographic trends and the increasing demand for life-long skills and learning in the UK.
“For example, adults can be disadvantaged by work-based learning in terms of age restrictions on apprenticeships, together with a squeeze on funding,” he said. “It is important that we use the findings of this research to address future skills policy.”
A significant percentage of MPs who took part in the research were ignorant of and confused by the vast numbers of acronyms, agencies and policies which make up the skills sector.
Flora Alexander, author of the report, said: “The skills sector is crying out for simplification. This would help the general public understand the various initiatives and how they can benefit individuals and employers.”