In response to Prime Minister Boris Johnson today unveiling plans for lifetime skills for the UK’s adult population, Andy Hibbitt, COO from the Doncaster Chamber for Commerce said: There is some welcome news within today’s announcements – indeed, it is good to see Government responding positively to issues that Chambers, businesses and Doncaster partners have been raising for some time.

“These include the need for more agile approaches to learning and development, the importance of technical education, and the ability of a well-resourced and supported Further Education sector to transform peoples’ lives whilst also meeting the needs of industry.

“The focus on adults today is also welcome.  We all know that Covid-19 will cause significant challenges for young people and this must not be forgotten – it is also pleasing that interventions to support young people are going well with over 100 kickstart placements already having been brokered by the Chamber.

“What is less often reported is that, whilst fewer over 50s will lose their jobs in a recession than 16-24-year olds, fewer of them will return to work – this represents a significant amount of wasted talent and opportunities.  As such, today’s announcements that can benefit older workers are welcome and I would urge local employers to embrace talent wherever in the community it comes from.

“Finally, for any of today’s announcements to be successful, it is imperative that Government gives regional economies and partners far more control over local skills systems.  The Sheffield City Region has made a significant financial ask of Government to enable the region to build back the economy. Just as important as the financial ask, is the ask for more autonomy as local partners – including those in the skills system – know much more about what local businesses and communities need than policymakers in Westminster and Whitehall.”