Report of the Council of Skills Advisers

If there is one thing that would transform the British economy, generating growth and accelerating productivity, it would be a transformational change in the investment – public and private – in the skills of the British people.

Skills are the currency with which future opportunity will be bought by British companies. The speed and scope of change is greater than at any point in our history and an effective response requires wide ranging changes in the way we think about, plan and deliver skills training and education on a national, regional and local level.

Not only are we presented with immediate challenges in meeting shifting skills requirements we are also faced with the need to decide the much broader question of the economic, social and cultural direction of our country.

Education and skills delivery at all levels needs to be reformed to make it more relevant, agile and capable of coping with constant and rapid change. As a priority we must create an environment where skilled and ambitious people can drive British business to be global leaders in their field, but we must not lose sight of the value of learning for learning’s sake and protect the arts, social sciences and humanities courses in order to maintain a civilised culture of which we can be proud.

To meet these needs, we need a curriculum that can adapt and evolve as needs change. We need education institutions that collaborate to establish barrier free development opportunities for people from all corners of society so that they can build meaningful careers and be more resilient to the ever more rapidly shifting tides of technology.

We need universities and colleges that produce work ready graduates that are equipped with the latest knowledge and skills to make an immediate and meaningful impact.

We need apprenticeships that can flex to meet the needs of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who are the critical agents of change.

We need genuine lifelong learning that recognises experience and capability and provides opportunity to promote successful personal development.

Our future education and skills agenda must focus on the long-term opportunity that rapid change brings, rather than lamenting the short-term challenges that may present. Crucially our future skills agenda must raise aspiration and show young people that they can grow, and thrive, as part of a vibrant and highly skilled Great Britain.

1. Rapidly restore a sustainable upward trajectory in growth and productivity.

2. Deliver quality jobs and provide the incentive and necessary skills to fill large- scale vacancies in order to accelerate growth without long-term inflationary pressures

3. Prepare for the ongoing impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the transition towards net-zero and the rapidly changing profile of the workplace.

We are aiming for a forward looking, modern, competitive Britain. Labour’s programme of modernisation and vision for the next 40 years must contrast with the backward-looking bygone era of 40 years ago. We want to build a Britain fit for the 21st century and beyond.

Market forces left to themselves inevitably revert to short-term solutions for short-term gains. Instead, through sensible cooperation and an enabling government, working with business at every level, we should be aiming at nothing less than fundamental change.

A Braille copy of the report is available on request.