Going further


This report from UK think tank IPPR looks at the case for investing in Further Education and adult skills.

Further education (FE) and skills are vital to delivering the government’s levelling up agenda. Low skill levels are a key factor in explaining the prevalence of low pay and progression in England. Skills gaps and poor skills utilisation have also both played a part in low and stagnant rates of productivity since the 2007/8 crisis. Furthermore, these challenges are all unequally distributed: the North – and the so called ‘red wall’ seats – consistently suffer disproportionately from low pay, low skills and low productivity. This means that driving higher skill levels and better skill utilisation is crucial to the government’s levelling up agenda. Skills policy is also crucial to our ability to ‘build back better’ after the pandemic. Unlike the 2007/8 economic crisis, the impact of the Covid-19 downturn will be felt disproportionately in the labour market. We are facing the worst jobs crisis in a generation. Notably, IPPR finds that up to 1 million people on furlough are in jobs that will not return after Covid-19. We find that these people are significantly less likely to have qualifications than the general population. In total, up to 130,000 of these people do not have equivalent to a level 2 qualification (GCSEs) and a further 250,000 do not have a level 3 (A levels). Our ability to support people who lose jobs in these sectors depends on the support available to them, to help them move into growing sectors.

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