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Government invests in tech to address UK skills gap

schedule 6th March 2017 by Virtual College in Education Last updated on 24th April 2018

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Learning and development (L&D) professionals across the UK are welcoming a new strategy from the government which places importance on skills and training.

The proposed strategy commits £170 million towards creating Institutes of Technology around the country as it hopes to bridge the current skills gap that is restricting businesses. The Prime Minister’s strategy also hopes to restructure technical education, replacing many qualifications that are low quality, with just 15 core technical routes.

Skills will be focused to boost expertise specifically in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

As people are beginning to work longer, the strategy also prioritises lifelong learning to keep up with the accelerating pace of technological change.

Chris Jones, chief executive, City & Guilds Group, commented on the proposals: “Placing skills at the heart of the industrial strategy can only be a good thing for our economy. The government must tread carefully.

“At the moment, we are at risk of initiative overload, what with the apprenticeship levy and the 3m target, the Technical & FE Bill and the Area-Based reviews, among others. We also need to be careful that the Institutes of Technology don’t simply end up being a rebrand of colleges. The funding proposed is not enough to establish new providers.”

Currently a consultation on the strategy is underway and a conclusion will be reached on April 17th.

It is hoped that the government delivers on its promises as the skills gap in certain sectors is so large that unless the industry acts now to train young people to take up apprenticeships and graduate positions, Chris Wood, chief executive, Develop Training believes “we face the very real possibility of the UK’s national infrastructure failing as current workers retire”.

Mr Wood argues that a new approach to training is needed, blending traditional classroom-based education and hands-on learning with “e-learning, the need for self-and peer-supported development, and the development of both digital and personal social skills”.


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