Review of NCUB Skills Policy in light of Covid-19

Review of NCUB Skills Policy in light of Covid-19

SkillsTo read the paper click pdf here (114 KB) .

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a substantial impact on the UK’s labour market, the implications of which are likely to be felt for many years to come. Employment levels have weakened, with the October ONS labour market statistics finding 673,000 fewer employees on UK payrolls in September 2020 compared to March. Redundancies increased in June to August 2020 by 113,000 compared to the same period in 2019, the largest annual increase since April to June 2009.

Young people have been particularly economically affected. In the September ONS labour market statistics, younger workers (those aged 18-24 years) experienced the largest decrease in employment and largest increases in unemployment, with 156,000 fewer employed people aged 16-24.

The economic impact on younger workers has severely damaged their aspirations. A survey from the NCFE found that only 18% of young people feel positive about their future career prospects. Meanwhile, a survey from The Prince’s Trust, found that more than half of young people (55%) say the coronavirus crisis has made them fearful for their future, while 46% say thinking about their future makes them feel “hopeless”. 58% of young people are “scared” of being unemployed, while 48% of those not in education, employment or training worried they would never get a job.

To recover from the pandemic and its economic impact, businesses will depend on a talented and adaptable workforce. Many businesses will not return to a pre-Covid normal, but will instead evolve new work practices and adapt to changes in consumer behaviour and demand. This will have a profound impact on the competencies and skills employers need. The Covid-19 crisis is likely to accelerate rapid technological change that has already transformed the UK’s labour market significantly.  

The Government has introduced welcome measures since the start of the crisis, including the Kick Start Scheme and more details on the National Skills Fund. However, the level of disruption to the labour market and the level of support needed especially for young people requires an urgent step change in ambition.

The National Centre for Universities and Business sits at the important interface of employers and higher education providers. As the collective voice of our universities and business leaders, the National Centre for Universities and Business understands and shapes collaboration to help deliver the future talent the UK needs. The measures recommended to the Government below are designed to support recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and develop a strong future workforce. The recommendations outlined are:

  • Temporarily abolish National Insurance Contributions for young people under the age of 25
  • Introduce a 50% wage subsidy for people under the age of 25 undertaking an apprenticeship, including a degree apprenticeship
  • Amend the apprenticeship Levy so it can be used to cover the real cost of an apprenticeship to businesses.
  • Establish an independent body to analyse current and future skills needs of the UK
  • Attract, train and upskill diverse, talented people and teams
  • Waive the student debt of graduates in occupations with significant skills shortages
  • Lift loan restrictions on Equivalent and Lower Qualifications (ELQ)
  • Introduce greater flexibilities to the Apprenticeship Levy

To read the paper click pdf here (114 KB) .

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