Government needs to be more effective in addressing workplace skills failings in England, says a new report from the National Audit Office.
The NAO says that government has an enduring role in supporting workforce skills development, as the market does not supply all the skills the country needs to provide goods and services and to enhance productivity and competitive advantage.
“The funding and attention government gives to this area is continuing to grow,” the NAO says. Despite that, “key indicators going in the wrong direction. Employers’ investment in workforce training has declined, as have participation in government-funded skills programmes and the programmes’ impact on productivity”.
The government’s measure of the impact of the further education system on productivity fell by 46% from 2012/13 to 2020/21, largely because of the drop in learner numbers.
“Government therefore needs to be much more effective… DfE is staking its success on a more employer-led system but, from the evidence we have seen, it is unclear whether the conditions are in place for this to be implemented successfully.” As a result, there is a risk of failure, the NAO says.
In March, then-chancellor Rishi Sunak called for ideas as to how SME could be incentivised to invest more in training, with an eye on the budget this autumn.
We are keen to hear views from members, both as to how the current system could be improved and more radical thinking. We are also working with the Engineering and Machinery Alliance, which is working with government departments on skills issues, including the new T-Levels, apprenticeships, bootcamps and Institutes of Technology.