People Management reported the changes employers can expect from the Queen’s speech.

A skills promise…
The government signalled its commitment to lifelong learning, announcing the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill that will be introduced to parliament on 18 May. The bill promises to “support a lifetime skills guarantee” that will create a new training system for those over the age of 16 that will provide opportunities to gain the necessary skills for “well-paid jobs”.

The legislation will transform the current student loans system into a new financial system that vows to “give every adult access to a flexible loan for higher-level education and training at university or college, usable at any point in their lives”. It will also give the government more powers to intervene if it deems colleges to not be meeting required standards.

The announcement has been welcomed by many, including Agata Nowakowska, area vice president for EMEA at Skillsoft. “For many, investment in skills support will be key to addressing both the disruption in the UK labour market [caused by the pandemic] and the growing digital skills gap,” she said.

“This is a vital step in growing the skills of tomorrow as well as supporting the UK economy to build back up after a year of turmoil.”

…but no apprenticeship levy reform
However, despite the emphasis on skills, conspicuous by its absence was any mention of reform to the apprenticeship levy, despite longstanding calls from many employers for change. Research released yesterday by the CIPD found that employers had missed out on nearly £2bn worth of apprenticeship levy funds over the last two years.

The research also showed that businesses doubled the amount they were spending on generic management apprenticeships in an attempt to utilise as much of the fund as possible, while the number of apprenticeships going to those under the age of 19 fell by 8 per cent.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, warned: “Without a fundamental rethink of the apprenticeship levy, plans to boost employer engagement with local education and training providers are likely to be fatally undermined.”

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