UKCES, with support from the TUC and the CBI, has identified that for young people, securing that first foothold into a good career is a lot harder than it used to be as opportunities to combine work and study decline.
They urge that ‘Earning and learning’ should be the gold standard in vocational education. They say:
- We need a step change in attitude and uptake of quality vocational routes into good jobs. High quality apprenticeships should be a normal career pathway for many more young people, and a normal way for businesses to recruit and develop their talent pipeline
- Employers, working collaboratively, should have the lead role in designing apprenticeships to ensure they have value in the labour market. The public contribution should be channelled via employers to stimulate greater employer uptake
- In England, long-term stability in vocational education and training is essential for employers to have the confidence to engage.
They also argue that education and employers should be better connected to prepare people for work. They say:
- To create new pathways into work we need to start much earlier
- All schools should have links with local businesses and use those links to inform and inspire young people about the breadth of career opportunities available
- Further education colleges should be supported to work with employers to deliver higher level technical and professional education to meet the UK’s technical skills gaps
- Closer collaboration between employers, colleges and universities is essential to ensure there are seamless opportunities to work and learn over the course of longer working careers.
Their third recommendation in relation to young people is that success should be measured by a wider set of outcomes not just educational attainment. They say:
- The success of our skills system should be based on more than just qualifications
- The publicly funded skills system should reward outcomes such as employment, pay, and progression as well as educational attainment
- Colleges need to work strategically with businesses, and be accountable to local businesses, communities and learners - not upwards to central government funding agencies
- Reliable labour market intelligence should be used widely to support better decision making by individuals, employers, and skills and employment providers
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