'Maintain this commitment to skills'

Following the announcement of the Comprehensive Spending Review and Autumn Statement, Chris Jones, Chief Executive of the City & Guilds Group shares his thoughts on the Chancellor's plans:

‘We are pleasantly surprised by the Chancellor’s commitment to professional and technical education and his recognition that this is essential to our economy. Although apprenticeships are important, they will not solve the nation’s skills shortages in isolation. We need a holistic commitment to professional and technical education to achieve the Government’s commitment to one million new jobs. Perhaps this is a start, but time will tell. 

‘We welcome the protection of the adult skills budget, the investment in University Technical Colleges and provision of loans to help individuals develop their skills. This commitment needs to be maintained.’ 

On the Government's announcement about the apprenticeship levy:

‘With annual productivity gains from training an apprentice averaging £10,280 per year, continued investment in apprenticeships makes sense. But the real challenge is increasing the number of high-quality apprenticeship placements and for that we need a sustainable, long-term funding solution. 

‘The levy could be that solution, but it will only be successful if employers support it. The Government needs to get the right balance between rigour and bureaucracy to make sure employers create quality apprenticeship places.’ 

On the Government's investment in infrastructure projects:

‘The Government’s investments in the UK’s infrastructure and housing is welcome. But such large-scale projects will depend on skilled workers to ensure they are delivered to a high-standard, on time, and on budget. Skills gaps pose a huge barrier to the Government’s ambitions. 

‘We welcome the Government’s move to give local communities and cities more decision-making power around how they spend their skills budgets. It will help align the skills system to the local job markets, such as the job opportunities that these infrastructure projects create. Councils need to work with their Local Enterprise Partnerships to strengthen the link between education and employment.’