While the report doesn’t go into detail on the skills shortages felt across the UK in energy and utilities, it did acknowledge the “gas, electricity and water industries” as sectors which reported the highest numbers of skills shortages.
The report does go into detail on further education and higher education funding, apprenticeships and flexible learning.
The key recommendations of the report are as follows:
Other post-school options need more funding
The report confirmed that post-school education funding is heavily skewed towards degrees, while funding for other options is less generous and confusing. The Committee calls for a better distribution of public funding across all forms and institutions, which should be underpinned by a single regulator for higher education (level 4 & above) and a single regulator for other post-school education (level 3 & below). It’s recommended that the regulator for other post-school education, should have similar status to the Office for Students (OfS), with sufficient resources and credibility.
From the outset, the Committee stated that that the Government target of three million apprenticeships should be scrapped. It identified a lack of accountability for delivering quality apprenticeships, with over half of training providers recently rated inadequate or requiring improvement by Ofsted, despite the improvements implementing the levy was meant to bring. The report calls for the government to renew its vision for apprenticeships, concentrating on the skills and choices that employers and individuals really need. It also calls for the Institute for Apprenticeships to be abolished, with the quality and outcomes the responsibility of the new regulators mentioned above.
Reversing the decline of part-time and flexible learning
The report identified a decline in part-time higher education learning due to student loan restrictions and rising fees, with a similar story for further education. To address this, the Committee recommends introducing a credit based system whereby people can learn on a module basis at their own pace.
Reforms to student loans and maintenance support
The report attributes national accounting to be responsible for the high level of interest charged on student loans, as interested is counted as income, despite the fact the vast majority of the interest is expected to be written off. The committee call for the interest rate to be reduced to the level of the 10-year gilt rate from the current rate of RPI plus 3%.
It also highlights that maintenance support for students is inconsistent across higher education. The switch from grants to loans in 2016, leaves poorer students with the largest debt. They call for the means-tested system of loans and grants that existed before 2016 must be re-instated, with total support increased to reflect the true cost of living.
Further information on the House of Lords’ Economic Affairs Select Committee, this report and its previous work is available here.