Budget ‘missed opportunity’ to boost skills


Skills bodies have attacked today’s budget as a “missed opportunity” to address the country’s “low-skills crisis”.

Chancellor George Osborne’s last budget before the general election contained only one specific skills announcement – a voucher payment system for apprenticeships that was revealed yesterday.

David Hughes, chief executive of adult skills body Niace, said: “This budget is completely blind to Britain’s low-skills crisis and was the coalition’s last opportunity to reverse the damage done to adults participating in further and higher education.”

Mr Hughes said the decision to raise the tax threshold – from £10,600 this year to £10,800 next year – would do nothing to help the lowest-paid.

“With the adult skills budget being cut by 24 per cent this year, putting a million learning opportunities at risk, the prospects for people escaping low pay are even worse,” he added.

Mr Hughes questioned whether giving people more control of their pensions was a good idea when around one in four adults lacks everyday maths skills.

He also warned that the impact of the chancellor’s planned cuts could be “devastating”.

“The cuts since 2010 have already led to a loss of 1 million learning opportunities for adults, with another 400,000 to come next year,” he said. “I believe that we are in a skills crisis now, but those looming cuts really are frightening.”

Chris Jones, chief executive of vocational body City & Guilds, said that although the budget emphasised job creation, the growing skills gap would make it difficult to fill new jobs.

“The government has already invested significantly in apprenticeships, and that’s great, but they are only part of the solution,” he said.

“We need to go further to bridge the gap between education and employment.”

 Better careers advice based on market data on skills gaps was urgently needed, he said.

“Unless we do more to help young people develop the right workplace skills, vacancies will remain unfilled and skills gaps will deepen.”

Related stories:

New voucher scheme aims to ‘simplify’ apprenticeship funding for employers – 17 March, 2015

Adult skills budget cut by 11 per cent – 26 February, 2015

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About Paul Champion

Some have called me a leader, and a entrepreneur, they say I have integrity, presence and skills to ensure continuous improvement and success in whatever challenges I face. They also tell me that I am positive, resilient and motivating. I say, I'm just a normaI guy from Gateshead in the North of England, who started as an apprentice engineer. I have been in the right place at the right time and in the wrong place at the wrong time! I have successfully initiated and led complex organizations and situations to completion and success, and I have been in some jobs where success seemed untouchable. Mainly though, I have tried to learn everyday, help people to progress and learn the skills they need to be successful. I have had the privilege of working with some great people locally across the UK and more recently internationally in Asia, Europe and now USA, where I am lucky enough to work for www.3aaa.co.uk where I am head of 3aaa USA. This website is just me having an outlet to talk about all those thoughts, ideas and things I learn that pass through my head every day when I face the challenge of doing business. I will also rant on about how great apprenticeships are, and how you can help change peoples lives through them. After all thats how I got to do the great things that I have done, and also I am still an apprentice everyday! All I ask is that if you find it interesting then leave a comment and share what you read. THANK YOU.

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