IMPROVING adult skills will be vital to individual and economic wellbeing in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis, says a business support organisation in Coventry and Warwickshire.
Louise Bennett, the chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the Prime Minister’s speech in which he committed to transforming the skills system.
In his speech, Boris Johnson committed to a Lifetime Skills Guarantee to give adults the chance to take free college courses, and a new entitlement to flexible loans to allow courses to be taken in segments.
He said he would extend Digital Bootcamps, invest in further education colleges and expand the take-up of apprenticeships.
Louise said: “A commitment to ongoing skills training would be welcome at any time but now, more than ever, individuals and businesses are going to need to be flexible in what they require as we look to rebuild the economy when we are through the worst of the crisis.
“Individuals will need new skills to access the jobs that are going to be available and it’s vital for the economy that we have a workforce that is ready to meet the challenges ahead.
“The types of jobs available was already going through massive change as the world has become more digital over the past few years, and the current crisis has accelerated some of that change.
“The Chamber has been calling for adult skills training to be in step with those changes and, while the devil is always in the detail, this looks like a move in the right direction.”
British Chambers of Commerce Head of People Policy Jane Gratton said: “The government has listened to Chambers and taken an important step toward a more agile adult skills system in the wake of the pandemic.
“Our Workplace Training and Development Commission has found that employers need access to bite-sized accredited learning that enables adults to be quickly up-skilled and re-skilled for new opportunities.
“Apprenticeships will remain crucial to solving the skills crisis and employers need support to recruit and retain apprentices throughout the pandemic as cashflow restrictions force firms to make difficult choices. Over time, we still need to see greater flexibility in how the apprenticeship levy can be used.
“The government’s renewed focus on FE, greater investment in technical and digital skills and a more flexible skills system must go hand in hand with high quality local delivery that responds quickly to the growth aspirations of business.”