Talent Matters - 6 Challenges to the UK Skills System

Education and Skills

The Labour Party have made recommendations to improve the UK skills system. The Skills Taskforce Interim Report highlights 6 problematic areas within the UK skills system as:

  1. The divide between vocational & academic education.
  2. Low levels of employer evolvement in the skills system.
  3. A fragmented education system.
  4. The need for a new vision for further education.
  5. The lack of high quality apprenticeships.
  6. Poor quality advice to navigate the transition between education and work.

Responses from the FE Sector

The 157 Group

"We are pleased that the Labour party has placed what is refers to as the 'damaging divide between vocational and academic education' at the heart of its thinking, as we have long argued that those who are successful in both work and life have a balance of theoretical and applied skill, and our education system should reflect this."

"Today's report presents a vision where FE colleges, such as those represented by the 157 Group, remain central to the provision of education and training, and recognises the broad and extensive work going on in colleges to develop those in every part of society, including for young people, for those who are employed, and for those who are unemployed or in need of a career change. We applaud the report's emphasis on the importance of further education for adults and for learning throughout life." -Lynne Sedgmore, Executive Director (read full response)


The AoC (Association of Colleges)

" [The report] sets out the problems caused by a funding system which restricts the courses colleges can deliver; the prevalence of competition between institutions rather than collaboration and the low levels of employer involvement in the skills system

“Colleges have excellent links with industry, working closely with big names such as Land Rover, Rolls Royce and EDF Energy, and devise bespoke training programmes in response to particular training needs. We note the comments about staff secondments to industry; there’s been significant investment in Teach First for schools and we’d like to see similar investment in College teacher training and support the opportunity for employers to get further involved in the delivery of skills to young people and for college staff to be seconded to industry." - Gill Clipson, Deputy Chief Executive at the Association of Colleges (read full response)


UCU - University College Union

"We agree that college lecturers should have the opportunity to spend more time in industry, but there has to be mechanisms in place to ensure employers are fully committed to providing that support."

'We desperately need better options for our young people. Record numbers of them are not working or training and politicians are right to look to education to solve the problem. However, improvements will not be achieved by simply expecting more of our excellent further education workforce and cannot be done on the cheap.

"Further education has a well-qualified, hard-working, professional workforce and the Labour Party needs to support it with commitments to invest to raise the nation's skills.' - Sally Hunt,  General Secretary, UCU (read full response)


Read the full report The Skills Taskforce Interim Report: Talent Matters-why England needs a new approach to skills pdf

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