Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has appointed Sir Michael Barber to advise on the implementation of the Government’s skills reform programme. These reforms to post-16 education and training, first announced in January 2021 by then-education secretary Gavin Williamson, are targeted towards ensuring that employers had access to the skills and skilled workers needed for the economy to grow.
Hunt expressed his concerns that “not all school leavers get the skills they need for a modern economy”, and therefore proposes to overhaul the accountability system to target funding towards supporting high-quality education and training provisions directly relevant to the labour market and “based on what employers want and need.”
Rehan Haque, CEO of metatalent.ai, commends the chancellor on this perspective towards education. He commented: “By targeting unskilled workers still only just entering the workforce, businesses will gain access to a previously untapped source of talent now skilled in exactly what their business currently needs to grow.”
“For employers that rely on a strong pipeline of talent and a skilled workforce, these changes will be welcomed. Currently, the global skills scarcity has meant that skilled workers are sparse and hard to come by for employers across all sectors. In a recent global survey by Capgemini and LinkedIn, over 50 per cent of business leaders noted that they have lost their competitive advantage due to talent shortages, and half of today’s organisations agreed that the ‘digital divide’ for workers skilled and unskilled in emerging technology is widening.”
“Ensuring that the next generation of workers has the training they need to thrive in the current demands of the labour market is critical, not just for younger people seeking employment and employable skills but also for businesses seeking workers that can directly fill gaps in talent and will adapt in an evolving work climate.”
Haque also believes the government should focus on curated training programmes, moderated by AI, in order to find, analyse and target “what employers want and need” on a business-to-business basis. “AI technology has the potential to greatly help with skills-based training specific to business needs. Businesses just need to specify their current weaknesses, and then begin the process of upskilling talent to directly address them.”
“This proposal is hopefully a return to the great first steps proposed nearly two years ago, but will require continued commitment towards post-16 education from the government in order for businesses to see a direct return to them in the next few years.”