14 September 2020

Chair of AELP Martin Dunford OBE calls for ‘Activity Guarantee’

A guarantee of a training programme for young people and adults left unemployed by the Covid-19 pandemic should be considered, says Martin Dunford OBE, Chief Executive of Skills Training UK and Chair of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP).

He made the suggestion whilst delivering the opening address at AELP’s Business Recovery Conference, held virtually and attended by over 250 delegates on 9 and 10 September.

It follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘opportunity guarantee’ announced earlier this summer to guarantee young people are offered an apprenticeship or a work placement to maintain their skills and confidence whilst boosting the Covid-19 economic recovery.

Martin Dunford OBE said: “The guarantee of an apprenticeship or other opportunity with an employer isn’t feasible because it is employers who will ultimately determine how many jobs or work experience opportunities they can provide in what is a very challenging economic climate.

“But an ‘activity guarantee’ should be created, giving anyone of any age who is out of work the guarantee of a training programme to develop new skills, as well as get support and guidance to take advantage of new opportunities as business recovery begins.

“This would give motivation and hope to everyone looking for work – whether they are making a first step into a career, or looking at getting back into work after redundancy.” 

Martin said that AELP had a diverse membership that had worked successfully together under AELP’s leadership to advocate for a demand-led system in Further Education and skills.

He said: “What makes the most beneficial impact on the employer and the learner is what really matters, and this strength served independent training providers particularly well early on in the pandemic, when AELP submitted two papers in quick succession to the Government on the skills and employment measures needed to get the economy back on its feet after lockdown.”

AELP’s recommendations covered young people and adults, both in work and out of work, with Martin saying he was “delighted” that traineeships have received a £111 million boost to their budget because they are “very effective in giving young people who have been disadvantaged the real chance of an apprenticeship or a job”.

He said traineeships are also a good example of how the Department for Education and Department for Work and Pensions have worked together on the much needed measures that encourage job retention, new jobs and skills acquisition.

This level of collaboration should be the default approach going forward, Martin added.

For further details of the AELP Business Recovery Conference see here, or to read the presentation in full, see here.

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