South West Regional Skills Enterprise and Employment Analysis 2007/2008
2.1 National Policy Context
In July 2003, the Government launched the National Skills Strategy, 21st Century Skills Realising our Potential, which set the challenge for 2010: “To ensure that employers have the right skills to support the success of their businesses, and individuals the skills they need to be both employable and personally fulfilled”(4).
2003 also saw the publication of the White Paper, The Future of Higher Education(5), which set out the Government's plans for radical reform and investment in universities and HE colleges.
In 2005 the White Paper, Getting on in business, getting on at work(6), was published. This focused on reforming the supply of publicly-funded training to raise performance, build capacity and better articulate the needs of employers and individuals.
The Further Education White Paper 2006(7) is about making the FE system fit for purpose in meeting the two strategic challenges of transforming 14-19 education and up-skilling the adult workforce. It sets out major reform for colleges and training providers, building on the recommendations of the Foster Review.
In 2004, the Government commissioned the Leitch Review to identify the UK’s optimal skills mix in 2020 to maximise economic growth, productivity and social justice, and to consider the policy implications of achieving the level of change required. The Leitch Review of Skills published its interim report, Skills in the UK: The long-term challenge, in December 2005. The final report, Prosperity for all in a global economy: World class skills, was published on 5 December 2006 and includes a wide range of proposals for change, as well as setting ambitious targets for the future (see Section 4.3.4). Discussion between relevant agencies is expected to continue into the summer of 2007 and the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 will determine what is to be adopted.
The Enterprise Act 2002 covers a range of measures designed to enhance enterprise. The 2006 Companies Act includes measures to make it easier to set up and run a company, and makes regulatory changes in relation to “Think Small First”.
The Budget 2006 announced plans to rationalise business support by reducing the existing 3,000 schemes to no more than 100 by 2010, and, in doing so, ensure that they are complementary with private provision and targeted effectively at market failures. A strategy for meeting this 2010 target is being developed in time to inform the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).
Ending Child Poverty is now the Department of Work and Pensions' (DWP) number one priority. Within this, tackling the problem of workless households will be a major issue for government and its partners.
The Green Paper on Welfare reform, published in 2006(8) , contains the Government’s proposals for:
Tackling the problem of low skills is also highlighted in the Green Paper as a priority.
On 25 May 2006, the Government published its response to the UK's long-term pensions challenge. The White Paper, Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system, aims to encourage more people to plan and save for their retirement. This proposed measures to support longer working and raises in the state retirement age in line with changes in life expectancy.
In March 2007, the Freud Review was published, recommending a radical review of the welfare system. The recommendations in the report, Reducing Dependency, Increasing Opportunity: options for the future of welfare to work, include: greater use of private and voluntary sector resources and expertise so harder–to-help benefit claimants receive more employment support; a new focus on long-term mentoring to tackle the problem of repeat benefit claimants; greater rewards for organisations that are successful in helping claimants find and stay in work; greater personalisation of employment support; and, retaining Jobcentre Plus’s role in helping customers during the early stages of their period on benefit and creating a new role for the organisation to assess how much support individual claimants are likely to need before they are ready to return to work.
(4) 21st Century Skills, Realising Our Potential, DfES,
2003, p 11
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