Policy updates

Skills Funding Letter

  • The Skills Funding letter was issued on the 17 December, setting out the budget for 2016/2017 and the indicative budgets for the next five years – read it here 
  • This is generally good news for the sector – and includes:
    • Confirmation that the non-apprenticeship budgets have been maintained for the next 5 years, showing increasing investment in the Apprenticeship programme from £740m in 2015/16 to £1.4bn in 2020.
    • The new budget for non-apprenticeship provision is called Adult Education Budget which will be maintained at the current spending levels and will be progressively devolved to local areas over the next 2 to 3 years. For independent training providers this budget may be retendered in 2017/18 due to changes in EU funding rules, although the arrangements for this are still to be agreed. It may be that there is a minimum level of contract that can be retained by providers that does not have to be retendered.

The letter recognises that for Apprenticeships the employer will make the decisions around which providers they will use, and stresses the importance of the market and employer engagement in that process

Devolution – ESIF Growth bulletin Nov/Dec 2015

  • Intermediate Body (IB) status for ERDF and ESF has now been agreed as part of devolution deals for Cornwall, North East, Tees Valley, Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester.
  • ESIF have also agreed to explore how an IB could be established in Sheffield and the emerging West Midlands Combined Authority.

The government will also work towards the devolution of rural growth programmes to the North East.

DWP have released the latest WP Job Outcome figures to Sept 2015 – see them here

Key findings:

  • 482,000 jobseekers have reached the Job Outcome point on the Work Programme
  • The latest three claimant intakes to complete a year (July, August and September 2014) show among the highest ever levels, well above minimum expectation
  • More recent intakes contain a higher proportion of individuals expected to require more support: over a fifth of the September 2015 intake are from ESA groups, compared to less than 5% in the first intakes

ONS Labour Market Statistics for December – ERSA E Bulletin see them here – Unemployment at its lowest since 2006 – Youth Unemployment has fallen significantly

  • In the August-October period, 16-24 youth unemployment fell to 625,000, a 4.29% drop from the previous period and a 17.11% drop from a year ago. It stood at 683,000 a couple of periods ago, so the recent drop has been large.
  • There were 31.30 million people in work, 207,000 more than for May to July 2015 and 505,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • There were 22.88 million people working full-time, 338,000 more than for a year earlier. There were 8.42 million people working part-time, 167,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 73.9%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.
  • There were 1.71 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 110,000 fewer than for May to July 2015 and 244,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate was 5.2%, lower than for a year earlier (6.0%). It has not been lower since the 3 months to January 2006. The unemployment rate is the proportion of the labour force (those in work plus those unemployed) that were unemployed.

CBI and Accenture published their annual employer trends survey – read it here (AELP Countdown 753)

  • This compiles the views of 342 employers on issues, such as recruitment, skills, the Living Wage and the Apprenticeship Levy.

Summary Points:

  • Looking at employer intentions for the next 12 months, the survey found that there was a net balance of +19% of employers looking to take on more apprentices next year.
  • While new job opportunities for young people will open up over the coming year, with nearly two thirds (62%) of businesses expecting to have entry-level roles suitable for young people aged 16-24, the biggest current threats to the UK’s labour market competitiveness are seen as the burden of employment regulation (cited by 50% of employers) and low levels of skills in the workforce (46%).

There is great uncertainty about the impact of the national living wage (NLW). While most respondents do not expect it to affect them initially in April 2016, two fifths (40%) anticipate an impact.