Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, welcomes the Government’s commitment to achieve full employment but urges both Government and businesses to look beyond the numbers and consider the quality and productivity of jobs: “The pledge outlined in the Queens Speech to achieve full employment is a positive and bold one but cannot be achieved by welfare reform alone. The new Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill must look beyond just the number of people in work and consider how individuals are equipped with the necessary skills to get into and get on at work. The CIPD believes there needs to be a fundamental review of skills policy to complement welfare reform activities. We need a stronger focus on increasing employer investment in skills and improving skills utilisation, more workplace development and more efforts to create the high-performance workplaces the UK needs to increase productivity and living standards for all”.
“The commitment to creating three million apprenticeships is welcome, but this must be supported by better careers advice and guidance in schools and be employer-led. Equally, it’s not just about hitting a target number. We need to look at the quality of the apprenticeships, the industries they’re in and the extent to which they’re part of any strategy to modernise the workplace and upskill the workforce”.
“The improved scope for childcare to support better working lives is also a positive move, but there is more that can be done to bridge the gap between parents and work for those with children aged under three. The announcement is a step in the right direction but we need a national strategy for childcare to address the barriers that currently prevent parents from getting into work and give them as much opportunity to work if they so choose”.
“Improving the quality of work and raising UK productivity has to be the number one economic priority for the Government. We welcome the commitment to measures that will raise the productive potential of the economy and increase living standards but there will be no quick fixes here. The productivity weaknesses that continue to undermine economic growth are both deep-rooted and complex. Things like infrastructure investment and ensuring businesses and entrepreneurs have access to finance are, of course, crucial but we also need to consider how we reverse the decline in both public and private sector investment in skills. Organisations need to understand how to utilise people’s skills in the workplace more effectively through the adoption of better leadership and people management practices, particularly among small businesses. The HR profession is at the heart of this change and we look forward to working with the Government on this agenda.”