In response to the Prime Minister’s plan to transform the training and skills programme in England, Stephanie Baxter, Skills and Education Lead at the IET, said:
“The Government’s drive today to invest in reskilling and training and to address the skills shortage in crucial sectors such as engineering is the first vital step in rebuilding and bolstering the UK economy. We hope this will include a focus on the skills needed for emerging and growing areas, including digitalisation and decarbonisation, to ensure we are securing jobs for the future and developing the next generation of talent.
“Whilst the new funding programme for technical courses for adults is positive, the gap between the perceived value of vocational and academic learning still needs to be addressed, in particular parity of esteem between A Levels and T Levels. We would welcome more awareness and take-up of T Levels as a valued, attractive qualification, equivalent to A Levels, that offers wide-ranging vocational and higher-level study opportunities.
“There must be a plan from the Government that will include partnering with FE Colleges and other academic providers and industry, including supply chains, to ensure that there is enough provision for T Levels and their 45-day placements. There must be forward planning for this, including risk assessments if social distancing is still in place when the scheme begins.
“This should be reinforced by encouraging businesses to invest in apprenticeships to increase the practical skills and resource of the engineering industry. It is vital that the Government takes the lead to partner with academia and industry. We would like to see employers given greater flexibility on spending restrictions, such as the apprenticeships levy, to support alternative, high-quality training options that will ultimately support the Government’s aim to upskill the nation and re-build the economy.”