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Skills policies failing to meet workplace needs, report finds

Current skills policies in England are failing to meet the changing needs of the workplace, according to a new report published this week.

The Skills Commission has warned that government strategies are hindering, rather than helping, the creation of highly-skills people ready to enter jobs.

The warning comes in a report into the provisional findings of the commission’s ongoing inquiry into skills provision. It has highlighted four trends that have become barriers, which it says need urgent attention if the situation is to improve.

It says there is uncertainty around the responsibility for training, declining social mobility because of a mismatch between skills and work, a fragmented system that makes it difficult for employers to engage, and an “alarming” lack of joined-up skills policy between government departments.

“The structures of work are changing but the structures and practices of training and recruitment are lagging behind and government policies are not always helping,” said Dame Ruth Silver, who is co-chairing the inquiry .

“It is right that we raise these four trends as ‘alerts’, such is the gravity of the threat they pose, and the urgency with which they must be addressed”.

David Hughes, chief executive of adult learning body Niace, said he was pleased the Skills Commission agreed that the current system was not fit for purpose.

Niace wants a new single government department responsible for education, skills and work.

“It’s critical that we break down these ‘significant barriers’ that the Skills Commission has highlighted and ensure we have a skills system that addresses current and future skills shortages and skills gaps, leading to a sustained and vibrant economic recovery and delivers prosperity for all,” Mr Hughes added.

The government said it was “absolutely committed” to boosting the skills of young people and helping them realise their ambitions, which is why it had made it easier for young people to move from traineeships, work experience and employment without losing their benefits.

A spokeswoman said: ““This month, youth unemployment saw the largest annual fall since records began, falling by 213,000. We have also trained over 26,000 Jobcentre advisers to give tailored support to jobseekers and the universal credit system allows young people to undertake employment or work experience and their benefits can be adjusted accordingly.”

The commission’s final report is due next month.

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Skills shortages could halt economic recovery, warns major report – January 2014

'We are in a parlous state' – Skills expert attacks 25 years of poor policies – March 2014

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