Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills
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The power to change lives: Government publishes new skills ambitions

The power to change lives: Government publishes new skills ambitions

DEPARTMENT FOR INNOVATION, UNIVERSITIES AND SKILLS News Release issued by The Government News Network on 18 July 2007

The Government today unveiled major new plans to help over 4 million adults learn new skills and improve existing ones over the next three years.

The plans will help make Britain's workforce one of the most skilled in the world by 2020.

World Class Skills, published today in response to the Leitch review of skills, will introduce new legislation to strengthen the current funding entitlement for adults to training in basic literacy and numeracy, giving adults a legal right to free training for the first time.

It will also create Skills Accounts, giving people greater choice over their learning. The Accounts will be available to help eligible benefit claimants to access training that will support their return to work.

A new adult careers service will offer tailored employment and skills advice that better meets the needs of low-skilled and unemployed adults.
For employers, benefits will include a new Commission for Employment and Skills and reformed Sector Skills Councils to give employers the opportunity to exert real influence over both the content and delivery of skills and employment programmes. This includes driving the reform and development of vocational qualifications.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:
"We can only succeed and prosper in the global economy if we have world class levels of skills.

"That is why we need a major drive to upskill our workforce, investing in training to boost the employability of millions of adults, help employers harness the skills they need to build successful British businesses, and create a more prosperous society."

Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, John Denham, said:
"Britain is changing. Increased global economic competition and rapid technological development are posing new challenges to our businesses, and to individual citizens.

"Skills are the answer to these challenges. For our citizens, better skills are the path to sustained employment, career progression, and increased income. Skills are the key to greater social mobility, with talent and hard work, not background, determining individuals' success.

"For our businesses, a more highly skilled workforce is the path to higher productivity, competitiveness and profitability. Increased skills will also contribute to the delivery of better public services."

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Peter Hain said:
"The publication today of both our Green Paper In Work, Better Off and the Leitch Implementation Plan spells out our aim to hit an employment rate of 80 percent, eradicate child poverty and build for economic prosperity and a fairer society. Better skills have a key role in helping us to extend employment opportunity to all - the modern definition of full employment. We need to change culture, aspiration and behaviour, to become a nation that values skills as a means of delivering prosperity and rewarding lives for all."

Commenting on the Government's response to his review, Lord Leitch said:
"I am delighted to welcome the plans the Government has announced today to make this nation a world leader in skills by 2020. The actions set out in World Class Skills shows that Government is putting skills at the very heart of its agenda.

"That is absolutely the right thing to do. Improving the skills of our people will help us to seize the opportunities globalisation presents, secure a prosperous future for our businesses, and for individual adults and their families.

"Today's plan marks a golden opportunity for skills and the future prosperity of this country. Government and its delivery agencies must now work in partnership with employers and individuals to realise that vision."

This Press Notice applies to England.
1. "World Class Skills: Implementing the Leitch Review of Skills in England" responds to the independent Leitch report - published in December - which identified a skills deficit disadvantaging the UK to the cost of billions of pounds, and requiring urgent remedies. More than a third of adults in the UK do not have a basic school leaving qualification - double the proportion in Canada and Germany. Five million people have no qualifications at all. One in six do not have basic literacy skills, and nearly half have difficulty with numbers.

2. Key announcements in the World Class Skills Plan are as follows:
For employers
* The new UK Commission for Employment and Skills, Local Employment and Skills Boards and reformed Sector Skills Councils will give employers the opportunity to exert real leverage over both the content and delivery of skills and employment programmes.
* Employers will be given a leading role in the reform and development of vocational qualifications for their sector, and make it easier for them to have their own training programmes accredited.
* The Skills Pledge encapsulates the partnership we need to forge between employers, their employees and Government to drive up skills in the workplace. The Pledge gives employers an opportunity to publicly demonstrate their commitment to investing in the skills of their employees.
* The Train to Gain service will be improved and expanded to help employers invest in their businesses by improving the skills of their employees. It will support employers to assess and address their training needs at all levels. It will support employers of all sizes and in all sectors, and will support employers in disadvantaged communities as well as in prosperous ones.
* A wide range of Higher Education institutions will be encouraged to increase their focus on workforce development and collaborate with employers to deliver training that meets their needs.
For individuals
* Through the creation of Skills Accounts and the new adult careers service, a tailored employment and skills offer will be delivered that better meets the needs of low-skilled and unemployed adults.
* Skills Accounts will give individuals greater ownership and choice over their learning, and they will be available to help eligible benefit claimants to access training that will support their return to work.
* DIUS and DWP will work together to create a joined-up employment and skills system. The information and advice services of learndirect and nextstep providers will be merged into a new, universal adult careers service in England, working in partnership with Jobcentre Plus.
* New legislation will be introduced to strengthen the current funding entitlement for adults to free training in basic literacy and numeracy and to achieve first full level 2 qualifications.
* A new skills campaign has just been launched in July to promote the benefits of learning and help raise individuals' awareness and aspirations. The theme of that campaign is to encourage individuals to recognise that our skills, and our future, is 'in our hands'. Visit or call 0800 011 30 30.

* In 2010 the progress made towards world class skills ambitions will be reviewed, and the establishment of an entitlement to workplace training for employees in England lacking a first full level 2 qualification will be considered.

3. The plan is published alongside the Welfare Reform Green Paper, the major next step of the Government's commitment to change the welfare state, lift more people out of benefit dependency and into work and eradicate child poverty.

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