Chancellor’s Statement – trade association responds with calls for more investment in skills
Responding to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) commented:
While there’s a financial hole that the Chancellor and Prime Minister need to fill, as we approach the New Year with a two-year recession on the cards, businesses need greater support that is underpinned by a strong skills agenda. There has been significant disruption in the labour market and employers are facing a tough economy that is only exacerbated by continued skills shortages.
The planned investment in the education, health and social care sectors is promising, but we strongly believe that more still needs to be delivered to support growth across the UK. We’ve faced months of political uncertainty and have seen a range of policies announced and reversed to tackle this. If firms are to best weather the challenges ahead, they need a strong, flexible and dynamic labour market. This can only be achieved through the delivery of the long-awaited Employment Bill and a focus on attracting highly skilled independent workers into the UK. We also believe that the Home Office needs to be held accountable for the delays on Tier 2 visas which are hindering growth for some employers.
The Chancellor’s ambitious aims of making the UK the world’s next Silicon Valley will only be achieved if there are the skills to deliver this, something which isn’t achievable with the current labour market. With our insight into international markets such as the DACH region, we welcome the comparison of the UK’s skills strength against other developed economies. We are supportive of the intention to develop a skills reform programme that includes international comparators and will be closely monitoring developments on this issue.
With the UK crying out for more skills development, we are hopeful that the Sunak administration will drive changes across the Apprenticeship Levy which includes allowing a much broader, more flexible use of Levy funds to support the training of agency workers, the self-employed, and to support modular learning, with a focus on skills short sectors and regions. We have no doubt that there are tough times ahead, but failing to invest the country’s finances into the right channels will only serve to weaken the economy on a longer-term basis.