Investing in skills and apprenticeships must remain a top priority if the UK is to close the skills gap and sustain its economic recovery, according to the leaders of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP).
The group's annual conference, being held today in Birmingham, will see the launch of an updated version of the AELP’s pre-election manifesto for employment and skills. In it, training providers will set out a series of recommendations to support employers and help individuals gain the skills they need to find work and progress.
They will call for the government to continue investing in skills and to make sure everyone has a minimum level of skills, including support for functional skills in maths and English.
The manifesto will also urge the government to keep improving the skills of adults already in work through the apprenticeship programme.
The call comes after a party conference season in which Labour and the Conservatives both committed to a massive expansion of apprenticeships during the next Parliament, and the Liberal Democrats pledged to boost pay for apprentices.
AELP said these goals could only be achieved if apprenticeships are offered across all ages, all sectors and at all levels.
AELP chief executive Stewart Segal said: “Training providers will be encouraged that party leaders have placed apprenticeships among their highest priorities for the next parliament and I believe that growing the programme will not just make a big difference to people’s careers but will also make a significant contribution to answering employers’ skills needs as the economy continues to recover.
“However we have shown in AELP’s updated manifesto that other actions are also required to maximise the return and effectiveness of government investment in training in order to underpin a sustainable economic recovery and strengthen social inclusion.”
Skills Minister Nick Boles is expected to update providers on the government’s apprenticeship reforms during his keynote speech to the conference.
Speaking before the event, he said: “As AELP acknowledge, skills play a key role in a building a sustainable economic recovery. Apprenticeships and traineeships give young people and adults the opportunity to fulfil their potential and develop the skills UK businesses need to grow and compete on the world stage.
“We are committed to increasing the number and quality of apprenticeships and to expanding traineeships. That’s why I’m calling on more employers to look in to how they can make skills training integral to their growth strategy.”
Apprentice ‘arms race’ must embrace colleges – October 2014
Apprenticeships: funding reforms 'won't be a burden', pledges minister – October 2014