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Skills Summit 2018 – facing UK productivity head on

Following the autumn budget, which highlighted the severity of the problems being faced in the UK for social mobility and productivity, we attended the Skills Summit 2018 to hear more about the Government’s plans for skills and hear industry professionals discuss the following key topics:

  • The Government’s Plans for Skills
  • Skills Pathways: New Routes to Workplace Skills
  • Recruiting More Apprentices & Making the Reforms Work
  • Using Apprenticeships to Improve Workplace Skills
  • Improving Digital Skills
  • Qualification Regulation & Reform
  • A National Retraining Partnership & Skills Advisory Panels
  • The Industrial Strategy & Skills After Brexit
  • Boosting the Productivity of UK Workplaces & The Role of Skills

Following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, it’s more important than ever to ensure that the current and future workforce are equipped and skilled to maintain a strong economy and remain competitive across the world.

The Sainsbury Panel report, released in April 2016, was an independent panel review on Technical Education which identified the serious shortage of technicians in industry and the growing unemployment rates of 16-24 year old, impacted by the lack of knowledge and training to equip them to work in these fields – who are desperately reaching out for skilled workers. Skills Summit 2018

The UK Government’s response to this report was a reform focused around improving the existing offerings to Post-16s and the introduction of apprenticeships – however, the technical offer to support the education and training of individuals was still lacking. The introduction of T-Levels, providing options for both traditional academic training but also more technical routes, will create pathways accessible to young adults from any capability to follow a future in their chosen career.

David Russell, CEO of Education and Training Foundation (ETF) stated that the UK has low unemployment but high under-employment of people working in roles where their skills don’t match or the role they are in. The reforms being put into play will help to alleviate this in the coming years and ensure that our future workforce is receiving uniform training.

Here are some of the key themes and takeaways discussed on the day:

Co-creation and co-delivery

A standardised way of monitoring and marking T-Levels and Apprenticeships will help level the employability field for individuals, and guide employers to understand the skill of the individuals they are taking on.

David Russel from ETF outlined that in order to improve social mobility and productivity, a unified technical education with the government reform which didn’t contend the new T-Levels versus apprenticeships will be key. As stated in the Sainsbury report; two routes with one standard will create consistency for employers and individuals in their education and employability.

Skills Summit 2018

Getting creative – immersive training

The construction industry is addressing their skills gaps proactively. Making up 8% of the economy, it’s a vital industry to ensure that the skills gap doesn’t continue growing at the current rate. And with 90% of the skilled workforce expected to retire in the next 5-10 years, upskilling workers quickly but effectively is becoming imperative.

In a potentially dangerous environment, training individuals in construction techniques can be challenging. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) have invested a lot of money into the development of technology for training through immersive learning (with plans to announce more in the coming weeks and months). This creates a safe way to develop and teach skills for the construction sites, and although not a replacement, means that students can be better equipped for the ‘real’ environment.

Educating influencers

Parents, family and friends are the biggest influencers. These individuals need to be educated to be able to offer the positive and appropriate guidance towards apprenticeship training.

Employing people – not just skills

It’s important to ensure people have rounded training and experiences – likely to be built successfully through work placements – as ultimately it is more important to take someone on board with good soft skills and who is adaptable, than a highly skilled individual who isn’t work ready. Employers are more likely to get a return on investment quicker through these individuals.

We have recognised this need and Employed’s platform supports the development of individuals and allows them to see their employability skills grow over time. By addressing what they have been able to get experience in so far, they can see where needs developing in their skill set and demonstrate to potential employers their professional development to date.

Skills Summit 2018

Data and working digitally

Use of data to track these new reform processes and journeys – by using data mapping of their progression paths (whether development within a company or if they move on in their professional pathway), and salary growth, feedback can be provided on how successfully the reform is working ‘on the ground’ and where improvements could be identified.

Demonstrating career progression paths to employers and the development value of training through a business will prove the effectiveness of these pathways and the result of investment through apprentice and T-Level training. Jonathan Mitchell, Deputy Director (Standards Development) at the Institute for Apprenticeships mentioned how most apprentices (87% in fact) are usually still with a business ten years later and have become extremely valuable employees as they know a business and it’s processes in great depth.

Dr Elnaz Kashefpakdel, Head of Research at Education and Employers emphasised the importance of the ESFA working collaboratively with the industries within a platform in which employers can register their availability and interests in offering to visit schools to talk and mentorships to students seeking support. Our platform already offers this community platform in which people can advertise and request support of their peers and organisations to support the growth.

Paving the way in the Isle of Man

Apprenticeships are growing in the Isle of Man, with leading industry sectors and their heads of business already working in partnership to create tailored industry-relevant programmes from which students leave prepared to step straight into the working world.

CITB has already seen this need to upskill students in order to make them work ready, offering their six week ‘boot camp’ programmes post post-college to bridge the gap between education and work. But this group’s collaborative way of working is why it’s been so successful on the Island so far. Part of this success is through the use of, the Isle of Man iteration of PDMS Employed.

The platform supports the connection of individuals with opportunities, making sure apprenticeship vacancies are visible and easy to apply for – it was referenced during the skills summit how all too often these opportunities are often not even visible or easy to find on sites by the companies who are supporting apprenticeships. also provides an online environment in which training can be recorded and kept throughout their training and career pathways, tracking the progress of individuals as they progress professionally.

The defining message of this years’ Skills Summit was the positive impact seen from supporting and investing in apprenticeships. Having historically received so much bad press for a number of reasons, there is evidence that – if done right – apprenticeships can provide a stable career path and change how we can upskill the work force in areas where the skills gaps are growing, ultimately to the great benefit of our economy.

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