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Chair of the GBSLEP Employment and Skills Board, Professor Helen Higson, reacts to PM's latest announcement on adult education

“The Prime Minister’s announcement today of a Lifetime Skills Guarantee is very welcome news. The scheme recognises how critical skills attainment is in securing a strong and inclusive recovery for our country and the key role that further education institutions can play in achieving this.

“GBSLEP have long recognised the need to increase the higher-level skills attainment of adults and through our ‘Plan 10,000 Plus’ strategy we have sought to achieve an increase in qualifications at Level 3 and higher through a series of collaborative initiatives. Key among these is the growth of apprenticeship provision across our businesses.

“A strong skills base is crucial to the region’s recovery post Covid-19 and to its ongoing economic success. The current crisis has only accelerated the need for people to learn new skills, and it is imperative that these skills are matched with the needs of industry to ensure that individuals accessing funding to train or retrain are offered routes into secure employment.

“Whilst this announcement is a positive step, there is still a great deal to be done to enhance our skills system, for example maximising deployment of the apprenticeship levy. As new opportunities emerge, we need a responsive skills system that is aligned to the needs of businesses and individuals to ensure they can thrive again. Local knowledge and shared ownership of the plans to address these challenges will be vital to their long-term success.”