The Queen’s speech – what does it mean for employers?

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The Queen’s speech – what does it mean for employers?

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The Queen’s speech which was delivered at the State Opening of Parliament last week documented what laws the Government intend to introduce over the coming year with a focus on the UK’s post-coronavirus recovery and “levelling up opportunities” across the country.

The speech confirmed that the Lifetime Skills Guarantee – which promises flexible access for all to high-quality education and training throughout their lives, has been upheld.

The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill will be introduced to parliament on 18 May and includes:

  • a new student finance system to overhaul the current student loan system, which will give every adult access to a flexible loan for higher-level education and training at university or college, useable at any point in their lives
  • employers will have a statutory role in planning publicly-funded training programmes with education providers through a “skills accelerator” programme
  • more government more powers to intervene if it deems colleges to not be meeting required standards.

What does the new legislation mean for employers?

The system is designed to bring together employers, colleges and other training providers to identify the skill needs of local areas and then to deliver them in partnership. By 2030, almost all technical courses are to be on employer-led standards, ensuring that the education and training individuals receive are directly linked to the skills needed for the job.

It is also anticipated that local areas will be able to plan what skills they need, with local employers being best placed to lead this process. This will be implemented through the Local Skills Improvement Plans which will be led by established employer representative bodies, starting with a small number of trailblazer areas this year.

What about the other key employment issues that weren’t included in the bill?

A specific Employment Bill was expected to be included in the speech which was due to address a number of key issues – such as improving labour market enforcement and flexible working, enhanced family-friendly rights including better leave for carers and ethnicity pay gap reporting to tackle ethnicity pay disparities. Whilst there was a passing mention that the government plan to work on reducing racial and ethnic disparities, we hope to hear more about how this will be addressed, together with other key employment issues in the near future.

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