National Skills Forum highlights need for investment in training for older people

The investment in training for older people is of “paramount importance,” the National Skills Forum has said on the eve of the anniversary of Lord Leitch’s Review of Skills.

The forum, a body that brings together parliamentarians, key stakeholders and leading policy makers, warned that more than a million workers are over the statutory pension age, while a quarter of working people are over 50. And by 2020 this figure will have risen to a third.

“In light of these drastic demographic changes, investment in training for older people is of paramount importance,” said National Skills Forum manager Flora Alexander.

She told Personnel Today that a key message for government would be for more to be done to cater for older learners.

“Adults aged 25, 45 and 65 have different career ambitions, different family needs and different ways of learning,” she said. “Therefore the design, funding and performance framework for skills provision should be ‘age proofed’ to ensure that the government approach works for all adults, of all ages, and all skill levels.”

Alexander added that while the government has made some progress in up-skilling the adult population, with the number of apprenticeships for adults having tripled in the past 10 years and increasing the age cap on the Level 3 entitlement from 19 to 25, there were also worrying trends.

“The number of publicly funded schemes for the over 60s has dropped by 40% in the past two years, from 340,000 to 210,000,” she said. “Older learners are having trouble finding courses to suit them because funding changes mean that courses need to be linked to a qualification.”

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