Local authorities need a greater role to create jobs and training opportunities in their communities
The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill is an important opportunity to tackle our fragmented employment and skills system. With the right funding and freedoms, local authorities can equip people with the skills they need to succeed.
With the Job Retention Scheme ending in September, it is clear that many people in our communities will need to train and retrain to secure new good quality jobs, both now and in the future.
The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill has been introduced at a critical moment. No one can argue with the thrust of the Bill and the White Paper - that skills provision must align with employer demand locally, and employers should rightly influence it. But it is our job in Parliament to help shine a light on how these reforms could be enhanced and its been great to see so many fellow peers wanting to work with the government to achieve that and support their levelling up ambitions.
The Bill makes important changes to help tackle these issues through introducing reforms to align local training with employers’ skills needs and broadening access to lifelong learning. Employers will be given a greater strategic role in the skills system through putting employer-led Local Skills Improvement Plans on a statutory footing and introducing the Lifelong Learning Entitlement which provides access to funding for adults to access higher-level technical qualifications.
National government’s priorities are most successfully delivered in a strong partnership with local government
I know, as vice-president of the LGA and a former council leader myself, the incredible work local authorities do day in day out to increase employment and training opportunities across the country. It is for this reason that local authorities need a greater role within it.
Throughout the pandemic, they have consistently delivered for their communities and businesses, coordinating employment, training and business support for their local areas, including helping unemployed residents transition into high demand and Covid-critical sectors. Some excellent examples can be found on the LGA website.
Local authorities have a vital role in connecting different parts of the skills and employment support system – existing and new, national and local - for their residents and local businesses. They also have wide-ranging direct and indirect responsibilities, including statutory roles on post-16 skills planning, supporting young people with specific education needs and those disengaged from the system. Given their expertise and wide-reaching role, they should be core and strategic partners in the LSIP process for their areas.
While the Bill importantly focusses on the provision of higher-level and technical qualifications, we also need to accelerate and expand opportunities for people to train and learn at every skill level. With 13 million people lacking a Level 2 qualification and 9 million lacking functional literacy and numeracy skills, it’s important we give adults the opportunity to upskill through their lives.
The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill is an important opportunity to tackle our fragmented employment and skills system, with a greater role for councils and employers to help create jobs and training opportunities in their local communities.
National government’s priorities are most successfully delivered in a strong partnership with local government. With the right funding and freedoms, local authorities can help government achieve its ambitions for our national recovery from the pandemic and equip people with the skills they need to succeed so no one is left behind.
Baroness Eaton is vice-president of the Local Government Association (LGA).
Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.