Louise Bennett

The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce has welcomed Government plans to put the voice of business at the heart of decision-making when it comes to future skills policy.

The Government’s Skills for Jobs White Paper enshrines the Prime Minister’s new Lifetime Skills Guarantee, setting out a blueprint for a post-16 education system that aims to ensure everyone, can gain the skills they need to progress in work at any stage of their lives.

Business groups, including Chambers of Commerce, are being asked to work alongside colleges to develop skills plans to meet local training needs.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “We welcome this white paper from the Department for Education and its commitment to listen to the voice of business when it comes to future skills policy.

“Firms across our region and, indeed, all over the country are at the coalface on a day-to-day basis and have a clear understanding where there are skills shortages and what is needed to improve productivity.

“It’s clear that the future workforce is going to need constant training and upskilling to meet new challenges and, again, we at the Chamber hear direct from businesses on what they and their staff need to have the skills required for the current and future economy.

“Working with our colleagues in education, we are committed to furthering the work around business engagement and aligning the needs of business with the supply of skills.”

The white paper includes plans to offer the chance for adults without a full level 3 qualification (A-level equivalent) to gain one from April 2021 for free in a range of sectors including engineering, health and accountancy.

Meanwhile, Skills Bootcamps – free, flexible courses of just 12-16 weeks – are giving adults the opportunity to build up sector-specifics kills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer.

A Lifelong Loan Entitlement will also make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly, which can be used over their lifetime and for modules of a course.

BCC Director General Adam Marshall said: “We welcome these ambitious plans to put the skills needs of businesses at the heart of the further education system. As local business leaders look to rebuild their firms and communities in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, it is essential to ensure that the right skills and training provision is in place to support growth.

“Chambers of Commerce can play a leading role in developing local skills plans that reflect the needs of employers in their areas, working closely with colleges, councils and other partners.

“Together, we can increase the focus on skills for the workplace – the digital, technical and broader skills that help businesses grow, succeed and create good jobs.

“We look forward to working with the Department for Education, training providers, businesses and other stakeholders across the FE sector to further develop these proposals, making sure more people can train and retrain for new and emerging jobs in their local communities.”