3 February 2015

Key issues facing skills sector addressed at national conference

Martin Dunford OBE, Chief Executive of Skills Training UK, in his role as Chairman of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), has launched AELP’s updated manifesto at its annual national conference on 2 – 3 June.

The manifesto addresses the key issues currently facing the vocational learning and skills sector, including youth unemployment, careers information for young people, the development of Traineeships and the Apprenticeship reforms. These remain key priorities for AELP in the run-up to next year’s general election.

The need for greater integration of employment and skills programmes and a more coherent procurement approach from government departments also feature in the manifesto.

AELP members and guests at the event looked at what is working well, with a focus on improving the quality of service delivery and how they can work more effectively with employers to deliver skills and employability programmes.

Martin Dunford OBE,  Chief Executive of Skills Training UK, said: “The AELP national conference brings together hundreds of representatives from training providers, employers and policymakers to debate whether government proposals to reform skills and employment programmes will benefit learners, engage more employers and get more people back to work to drive growth in the economy. The conference is vitally important in setting out the changes that AELP and its members want to see in the coming year and how these will be communicated to policymakers.”

A central theme of the conference was getting the apprenticeship reforms right, with Skills Minister Matthew Hancock MP outlining the proposed funding changes. The funding reforms, which were debated on day two of the conference, have been met with great uncertainty from the industry, with many of AELP members’ employer customers expressing their concerns. AELP supports the need for employers to have greater engagement in apprenticeships but is calling for them to have a choice over how they are funded.

Martin Dunford OBE, added: “It’s an exciting time for apprenticeships, with the Prime Minister talking about them becoming the new norm, however AELP has a very important role to play in making sure that the views of training providers and of employers are heard in the Government’s reforms. The apprenticeships’ budget is currently capped and the Government is yet to announce if, or how, it will increase it in order to meet the latent demand from employers.”

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