Learning and Work Institute - Lifelong Learning Week
Posted 5 November 2020
In support of Learning and Work Institute's Lifelong Learning Week, NOCN Group asks - Will the lifetime skills guarantee really help to 'Close the Gap'?
As a longstanding advocate of adult learning, NOCN Group is proud to be supporting Learning and Work Institute’s very first Life Long Learning Week (2nd -6th November 2020), in celebration of the benefits of adult education on individuals, communities and employers.
There is starting to be increased recognition of the importance of upskilling the nation’s work forces through adult education.
At the end of last month, the Prime Minister announced the ‘Lifetime Skills Guarantee’ during a visit to Exeter College and pledged 1.5 billion for the improvement of Colleges across the UK. The guarantee is designed to “end the bogus distinction between Further Education and Higher Education” and provide “flexible lifelong loan entitlement to four years of post-18 education”, to close the UK’s ever-growing skills gap.
Adults without an A level or equivalent qualification will be offered a free, fully funded FE course. The message is one of recovery, reskilling, removing barriers, and ‘building back better’ in order to increase productivity and social mobility in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. But previous skills initiatives have fallen short of the mark so what will be different this time?
Almost a year ago to the date of the PM’s announcement NOCN Group, in collaboration with City & Guilds, launched its landmark ‘Close the Gap’ report which provided a proposed map for UK Technical & Skills Education to reskill the UK, closing the gap on our competitors and remaining a world leading force for the 21st century.
When the report launched, prior to the pandemic in late 2019, the country already faced significant risk of displaced employment, underemployment, low productivity, and rising inequality with negative consequences for the economy, government spending, and social cohesion. We needed to ‘Close the Gap’ and mitigate the risks of this as a priority but no-one could possibly have known a global pandemic that would have a seismic impact on the economy, the world of work, and education, was around the corner.
Increasing productivity is now more vital than ever and I have talked many times about the challenges the UK faces in solving the ‘productivity puzzle’ in order to remain competitive, get people out of poverty, and improve pay overall. The PM talked about our lack of Lab Technicians to work on developing the Covid-19 vaccine, reflecting our ‘Close the Gap’ report findings that over the next 5-10 years there will be major skills gaps in the growing number of professional, scientific, and technical jobs (particularly at educational Levels 4 and 5) – the ‘Missing Middle’.
Our findings are recently supported by the CBI, who are calling for a national re-skilling effort, following their report Learning for life: funding world class adult education, which indicates that nine out of ten employees will need to reskill by 2030.
As a not-for-profit leading Awarding Organisation, providing high quality vocational and technical qualifications and apprenticeships across the UK and internationally, our priority now is to align that training agenda with the skills required to ‘close the gap’, not only today but for the future. We have a vast array of learning solutions designed to provide skills for work and life with social mobility and productivity at their heart. As a smaller, more agile provider of qualifications which prides itself on being able to offer FE Colleges and Training Providers a personalised service, we look forward to working in partnership with them to offer ‘lifetime skills’ for work, arming learners with not just job-specific competences but also the ability to adapt to a working environment that is changing at pace, often driven by technological advancements, throughout their lives.
We want to create a culture where we never stop learning and where learning is easily accessible to all. The Government will soon announce which courses will be funded and the ‘Lifetime Skills Guarantee’ will be available from April 2021 across England – and we will be ready to deliver the Life Long Learning solutions to the complex set of challenges we now face.
About NOCN Group
As a progressive educational and skills charity with a social rather than commercial focus, NOCN Group is at the forefront of vocational skills development and apprenticeships, in the UK and internationally.
NOCN Group offers a wide range of education and skills services, including regulated qualifications, EPA for apprenticeships, Traineeships, Job Cards in construction, Access to HE Diplomas, bespoke accreditation and educational and skills support training.
For more information visit https://www.nocn.org.uk/