Skills 2030: Building A World-Class Skills System

Reform skills policy in England to drive economic growth and build a world-class skills system by 2030.  

The next Parliament should reform skills policy to help address skills shortages and build a highly skilled workforce capable of boosting productivity and expanding opportunity for all.  

Cross-party think tank Policy Connect’s latest report, ‘Skills 2030: Building A World-Class Skills System’, co-chaired by the Rt. Hon Sir John Hayes CBE MP and Barry Sheerman MP, sets out a vision for reforming the skills system in England over the next Parliament, with the goal of building a world-class skills system by 2030.  

Since the Skills Commission’s last inquiry on the skills system in 2020, the Government has taken positive steps towards improving the skills system in England, with the introduction of Local Skills Improvement Plans, the promotion of apprenticeships, and the announcement of the Lifelong Learning Entitlement.  

However, as the Skills 2030 report makes clear, England does not yet have the world-class skills system that it needs to address the challenging social and economic circumstances that the country faces.  

Skills 2030 highlights the importance of skills policy being a top priority for whichever party or parties form the next government. The inquiry heard from stakeholders across the sector about the vital importance of reforms to address challenges in further education, falling employer investment in skills, and persistent barriers facing both young and adult learners.  

The report, following an inquiry by the Skills Commission, presents a holistic and wide-ranging vision to transform the skills system and ensure that it can adapt and respond to changing workforce needs in the years ahead. It sets out eleven recommendations to deliver meaningful and lasting improvements in the skills system, covering the following important themes: 

  • Reshaping Skills Policy Decision-making, 

  • Investing in the Future of Further Education and Skills, 

  • Removing Barriers for Young Learners, 

  • Maximising Employer Investment in Skills, and 

  • Making Lifelong Learning a Reality.  

Rt. Hon Sir John Hayes CBE MP, Inquiry Co-Chair 

“As Co-Chair of the Skills Commission, I am pleased that this report sets out a powerful case for change, with an ambitious and detailed roadmap for building on the Government’s recent progress in implementing reforms to the skills system. Stakeholders from across the sector have contributed to our inquiry, demonstrating that despite this progress, policymakers have yet to fully articulate a compelling vision that puts the system on a path towards leading the world.  

Working in partnership with the sector to deliver the recommendations outlined in Skills 2030, I am convinced that the next Parliament can build a skills system that increases productivity, supports social mobility, and empowers individuals to upskill and reskill throughout their lives. I will continue to work with colleagues from across Parliament to build the world-class skills system that our country needs.” 

Hayley Pells, Policy Lead at the Institute of the Motor Industry 

“Now is the right time to be providing the direction for the next parliament on what’s needed to address the serious skills deficit in the UK. The IMI was, therefore, delighted to be involved in Policy Connect’s report, representing the interests of our members and the wider automotive sector where we currently face 23,000 vacancies. It is critical that the UK workforce possesses the requisite skills to navigate an increasingly complex and technologically advanced landscape and it is imperative that skills development is prioritised to ensure the resilience and adaptability of the workforce.” 

Professor Keith McLay, Provost (Learning and Teaching) at the University of Derby 

“I am delighted to have contributed to this important report, which emphasises how crucial it is to develop a holistic approach to skills development. The recommendations of the report align closely with the University of Derby’s ethos of raising aspirations and ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to develop their skills and talents, regardless of background. Forging stronger links between industry and education is critical to reforming England’s skills system and preparing us all to meet the challenges of our fast-changing world.” 

Dr. Peter Wilson, Senior Researcher and Report Author, Policy Connect  

“I am pleased to present Skills 2030 – an agenda for reforming the skills system in England over the next Parliament, with the goal of building a world-class skills system by 2030. The Skills Commission has worked with a range of stakeholders from across the sector to address the challenges that the skills system faces and present a holistic vision for transforming the skills system and delivering the highly skilled workforce that England needs. 

With the UK’s major political parties increasingly aware of the central importance that a highly skilled workforce plays in the economy, this is an opportune moment to present a vision for reforming England’s skills system that can command broad consensus. Whilst recognising that reform will have to be delivered in a challenging fiscal context, the Skills 2030 inquiry has demonstrated that investing in skills is an absolute necessity for the country’s future economic success and social cohesion.” 

Notes to Editors 

For more information, please contact james.taylor [at] (james[dot]taylor[at]policyconnect[dot]org[dot]uk)

The report is sponsored by the Insitute of the Motor Industry (IMI), Jisc, and the University of Derby. Thanks also to the launch event sponsor WMG, University of Warwick. 

About Policy Connect  

Policy Connect is a cross-party think tank. We specialise in supporting parliamentary groups, forums and commissions, delivering impactful policy research and event programmes and bringing together parliamentarians and government in collaboration with academia, business and civil society to help shape public policy in Westminster and Whitehall, so as to improve people’s lives.  

Our work focusses on five key policy areas which are: Education & Skills; Industry, Technology & Innovation; Sustainability; Health; and Assistive & Accessible Technology.  

 We are a social enterprise and are funded by a combination of regular annual membership subscriptions and time-limited sponsorships. We are proud to be a Disability Confident and London Living Wage employer, and a member of Social Enterprise UK.  

About the Skills Commission  

Policy Connect’s Education and Skills team run the Skills Commission. The Commission brings together parliamentarians, leading figures from across the FE and skills sector, academics and employers to undertake high-level research into Further Education and Skills policy, making recommendations to government, the sector and industries.