The Lifetime Skills Guarantee is an initiative by the Government to fund qualifications in sectors such as engineering, construction and social care to any adult who has not already achieved a qualification at Level 3. There have been consistent warnings about the government’s approach to the Lifetime Skills Guarantee from politicians across the political divide while the bill was passing through the House of Commons.
The current offering falls short in three major areas, accessibility, affordability, and sustainability. The Government needs to provide clearer criteria and a broader selection of qualifications for people looking to begin a career in the industry. By voting against amendments to strengthen the Bill, it is clear that encouraging the trade sector is not currently a priority. We need more support for potential students to find out exactly what qualifications they need and how to use them to build a career. Although the lifetime skills initiative provides funding for level 3 qualifications, students still need options for funding their level 1 and 2. Initiatives such as Access' Earn While You Learn, coupled with the prolonged career support offering, provide students with realistic means to create a sustainable career in the industry.
During the lockdowns in 2020-2021, the Government's priorities became clearer than ever as they selected the sectors worthy of the term "essential workers". Despite trade acting as a lynchpin to keep the UK economy running throughout this time, tradespeople were given no recognition of their utility. The fallout from this is still being felt across the sector. There is no need to predict the consequences of a lack of action as these consequences are already a reality. A dwindling workforce in trade impacts the infrastructure, facilities, and utilities available to everyone - including the Government itself - for new projects. This, in turn, impacts company productivity and creates a drop in service which would hit the already fragile economic environment. Despite having vowed to help the country "Build Back Better", the Government seems to have forgotten that you can't build anything without a well grounded workforce of tradespeople.