A cross-party Commission of parliamentarians from both Houses has called for a series of reforms to meet the skills, labour and employment challenges of longer working lives. The recommendations set out within the new Skills Commission report on older workers – Spotlight On…Lifelong Learning for an Ageing Workforce – have become especially relevant in light of the findings of two recent reports stating that the State Pension Age will have to increase sooner than initially expected.
UK workers living longer and working longer
People in Britain are living longer and as a result, many are working longer than ever before. Despite a number of policy drives aimed at delaying retirement, questions remain as to how employers will adapt their policies to suit a more age-diverse workforce and how skills provision can deliver for an ageing population. Furthermore, the UK’s decision to leave the EU makes concerns over labour supply even more acute.
This report, like others in the series, highlights good practice within government and amongst industry sectors, indicates how learning provision can be improved and suggests how challenges and difficulties faced by these groups can be overcome by changes to policies.
The report recommends, among other reforms, the piloting of learning accounts to support workers and employers save towards training costs, saying the Department for Education and Department for Work and Pensions should collaborate to oversee pilots by Jobcentre Plus, the National Citizen’s Service and others to look into the feasibility of learning accounts and their effectiveness in directing workers towards in demand roles.
A joint minister for lifelong learning should be created between the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Education, to enhance collaboration between the departments.
The report, which also calls on the government to facilitate transferable parental leave for parents in training (Rec 2) and pilot new funding mechanisms for training the over-50s (Rec 8), has been produced by a working group consisting of MPs, academics and further education institutions.
Contributors include representatives from the Department for Work and Pensions, as well as sector experts including the Institute for Employment Studies, Age UK, and The Work Foundation.
Barry Sheerman MP, Co-Chair of the Skills Commission, said of the report:
“This report highlights the training gaps which badly need reforming for our lifelong learners, and I am pleased to see the BEIS Select Committee and Spring Budget recognise this. We can be more productive as a country and fill skills gaps if we invest in lifelong learning and returning to work support, and by making upskilling the norm at work.”
MPs and Peers within the Commission commended announcements in the Spring Budget for allocated funding towards lifelong learning and return to work schemes. The announcements mirror further recommendations set out within the new Spotlight report.
To find out more and to download the report for free, please visit www.policyconnect.org.uk/sc/research.