Future-Ready Skills Commission responds to PM’s speech on adult skills and training

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the Future-Ready Skills Commission and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, says today’s announcement is ‘long overdue’ and must be locally led if it is to make a difference

Commenting on the Prime Minister announcement today about adult education and training, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the Future-Ready Skills Commission and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, and Leader of Bradford Council, said:

“This announcement is a long-overdue admission that the current adult skills system doesn’t work for those it is intended to help. The Future-Ready Skills Commission has spent the past two years examining the state of adult skills provision and our final report, published just last week, makes it clear that a radical shift in attitudes towards skills and training is need - one that we hope begins today.

“Despite promises of greater spending on skills and training, the system has been starved of investment for too long. Our figures show that reversing a decade’s cuts to adult education and devolving existing national funding would amount to £4.2 billion a year - money that must be placed in the hands of regions if it is to make a difference. The Department of Education is notorious for devising top-down national programmes which don’t represent value for money. Regions are best-placed to work with local employers to understand the skills in demand in their jobs market both now and in the future and then collaborate with colleges, training providers and businesses to meet these needs.

“There is also more to be done to address the needs of the economy in the future. The industries of tomorrow will need people ready to work in them and preparations for this must start today. West Yorkshire has the potential to create over 70,000 good jobs in the clean tech and zero-carbon economy by the middle of the century, but to get there, we need to see consistent investment from Government so that we can provide the right skills and training for this in the region.

“The impact of the pandemic is falling most heavily on people already disadvantaged in the labour market. We can see the economy transforming in front of our eyes, with whole industries and sectors being decimated. Unless we can support people with skills and training in a way that fits with the reality on the ground where they live and work, we risk damaging the life chances of a whole generation.”

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe is chair of the Future-Ready Skills Commission, an independent, national commission supported by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and made up of experts and leading thinkers from business, education, local government and think tanks.

It recently issued its final report, A Blueprint for a Future-Ready Skills System, following a two-year long in-depth examination of the UK skills system from post-16 education through to adult skills and career development.

The report makes nine key policy recommendations that taken together offer a bold and innovative approach to adult skills funding and careers advice, including a radical shift of powers for its delivery and governance. If enacted they would lead to an adult skills and training system that can better meet the needs of local economies, and future challenges and opportunities in the workplace.

Find more information about the Future-Ready Skills Commission.