Last updated: 11.07.14

NIACE calls for adult skills to be prioritised

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) has insisted that helping unemployed adults find jobs must be a priority.

A recent report from the Local Government Association (LGA) included a number of proposals to get more people into work, such as matching training with local jobs and to place more of a focus on employment skills.

The organisation argued that the existing system for tackling joblessness needs to be reformed radically, as people are currently being "let down and sucked into an unemployment twilight zone".

Tom Stannard, deputy chief executive of NIACE, acknowledged that many of the suggestions included in the LGA's report are welcome.

However, he said it primarily focuses on getting younger people into work and overlooks key issues such as adult skills and employment among this group.

As a result, he believes greater attention needs to be paid to this issue at local authority level, perhaps by integrating skills through Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) so they can identify and address skills shortages.

"Longer working lives are a reality which we need to tackle and benefit from," Mr Stannard commented.

"To address current and future skills shortages, we must recognise the talent and potential of older people."

Mr Stannard pointed out that the government is already making sure older employees are able to undergo an in-depth career review for the very first time.

Nevertheless, he insisted that more needs to be done in order to bring about a skills-led recovery that "makes the most of greater longevity".

"A truly lifelong learning society recognises and values the contribution of all individuals," he said.

Mr Stannard added that integrating skills and economic growth strategies through LEPs and combined authorities would be one effective way of moving forwards.

He said this might help to address skills shortages, fill skills gaps and enable local labour market needs to be met.

This, he stated, would in turn lead to an increase in productivity and enable people to "thrive in their careers", thereby helping to generate "vibrant" economic growth.