Last month her majesty the Queen visited parliament to formally announce the government’s plans for the future of our country.
One of the biggest takeaways from the speech and one that was and continues to be widely reported by all the major news outlets, is the government’s intention to create a skills revolution in the UK. The Skills and Post-Education Bill will allow adults, regardless of age, to be given a flexible loan for a four-year course at a university or collage for modules or a full qualification.
The new scheme will provide people with financial support so they can re-skill and start on a new career path if they wish to.
The lifetime skills guarantee is a short term fix
The pandemic was hard for many people, with many being furloughed or made redundant. Office workers were forced to work from home, giving many people the opportunity to hit pause on their life and re-evaluate their workplace happiness and what they really want to do as a career.
Now, don’t get me wrong I’m all for supporting and helping people better themselves, but why’s the government introducing another new skills scheme when we already have apprenticeships? It’s like they’re redesigning the wheel and making it square! Surely it would be simpler for the government to just revamp our current apprenticeship scheme so that it actually encourages more businesses to take on more apprentices?
It seems quite fitting for the government to introduce the new lifetime skills Bill at a time when many people are wanting to change careers. I see it as the government people pleasing once again – another easy, short-term PR win. This new bill is another example of the government swerving around a straight-forward solution by throwing money at the problem for a short-term fix to upskilling the population. Investing in apprenticeships is what will solve the skills shortage issue in the long-run, not offering to loan people the money to do another course in something that’s not guaranteed to boost the economy.
Let’s re-jig the current apprenticeship policy!
The government, in theory, is affirming its commitment to increasing apprenticeship opportunities, but in practice you wouldn’t be able to tell. The government’s Apprenticeship Levy scheme, which created a pot of money and funds for businesses to use to support their apprenticeship schemes, has been a disaster. UK employers have lost nearly £2 billion because of unspent apprenticeship levy money, which has been returned to the Treasury.
A re-jig of the current apprenticeship model is needed, with apprenticeships becoming accessible to people of all ages. It’s also time the government scraps the levy and gives employers funding to pay their apprentices wages directly. If this was the case, I can promise you more employers would be able to set up more apprenticeship schemes successfully and would actually want to do it – the skills revolution Boris keeps preaching about would finally come to fruition.
Apprentices aren’t cheap but they’re worth it
When people tell me Pimlico Plumbers is too dear, I tell them ‘the cheapest plumber generally will turn out to be the most expensive’. It’s the same with skills training. Do it on the cheap, and you’ll end up costing yourself way more than if you did the job right the first time.
An updated apprenticeship scheme should have been the focus of her majesty’s speech. Instead, the government just announced another new, expensive policy. Sadly, I believe it will be a case of the government costing the taxpayer yet more money because of its refusal to get the job done right the first time and invest properly in apprenticeships.
I’ve invested in Pimlico Plumber’s apprenticeship scheme from the start and do not regret my decision one bit. It’s time the government follows suit and invests in a national apprenticeship scheme.