Our Work Priorities
- Lifelong learning. Learning through life, for any reason and none, improves work, health, wellbeing and active citizenship. People learn in many ways, including blended use of technology and with family and community. Yet participation in learning is unequal and has fallen. We will focus on making the case for learning for adults, including through Festival of Learning in England and Adult Learners’ Week in Wales, as well as support for retraining and upskilling.
- Employment and social security. At its best, work can provide income, meaning, purpose, connections and the opportunity to progress. But unemployment increased during the pandemic, with young people and older people among those hardest hit. Employment support, allied with health, skills and other services, can help people find work. We will focus on support for groups, like young people and disabled people, and areas that have lower employment. We will look to build and disseminate the evidence base and advocate for effective policy and delivery.
- Essential and life skills. Capabilities like literacy, language, ESOL, numeracy, digital, health literacy, citizenship and financial skills, are fundamental to life and work. Yet one in five adults have low functional skills and fewer people are taking part in learning to improve these skills. We will focus on building support for all adults to gain these capabilities and developing new ways to engage people and deliver learning.
- Good work and progression. Work should be good quality and provide progression and development opportunities. Increases in the minimum wage have reduced the prevalence of low pay. Yet living standards have stagnated for millions since 2008 and levels of progression from low pay are limited. We will focus on developing and spreading good practice for people in low pay to progress, including careers advice and skills improvements, and exploring the role and impact of the minimum wage.
- Apprenticeships and technical education. Everyone who could benefit should be able to access a high-quality apprenticeship and world-class technical education. Yet participation in both is lower than in other countries and quality too often variable. We will focus on increasing and widening access to high quality apprenticeships, and how to expand technical education, including higher technical education.
- Social justice and inclusion. Everyone should have the chance to go as far as their efforts will take them - life chances should not be constrained by background. Yet we have stark inequalities by group and area, and lower social mobility than other countries. We will focus on advocating for better support for groups that too often miss out, particularly young people, and trying new ways of delivering this with partners.
Our work priorities interact, so we will develop cross-cutting programmes focused on:
Priority sectors. We will look at the skills and employment needs and opportunities of a small number of sectors. These may include green growth, high growth sectors and foundation sectors such as social care. We will identify how skills and employment support can support these sectors and widen access to work in them.
Levelling up. There are significant and persistent inequalities in pay, work and learning between places and groups. We will consider what levelling up might mean, how it might be delivered, and identify successful policy and practice.
Community and connection. Isolation affect many: technology can build connections or leave people more isolated or trapped in ‘echo chambers’. How do we build more connections between people and greater community engagement? How can learning help? How could this be integrated with other support in a local area?