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Skills for Life Strategy

The Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills has just launched their refreshed Skills for Life Strategy (see below). The Skills for Life strategy was launched in 2001, and has helped nearly 6 million adults to improve their skills.  However, in order to achieve the Government’s ambition for 95% of adults to have functional literacy and numeracy skills by 2020, DIUS have refreshed their strategy for addressing literacy, language and numeracy needs.

The strategy focuses on three central themes:
  • focusing Skills for Life on employability, to help people develop skills to find, stay and progress in work;
  • raising demand for literacy, language and particularly numeracy skills among individuals and employers, changing the culture and attitudes to Skills for Life that prevent people from embarking on learning; and
  • delivering flexible and responsive Skills for Life provision which meets learner and employer needs, is high quality, delivered in innovative ways and embedded in wider skills provision.
The following priority learner groups have been identified:
  • people who are unemployed and on benefits;
  • low-skilled adults in employment;
  • prisoners and those supervised in the community; and
  • other groups at risk of social exclusion, including some ethnic minorities and those living in the most disadvantaged areas of the country.
Initial assessment is the starting point to addressing learner’s needs, and for the academic year 2009/10, the LSC will publish a definition of initial assessment to be used consistently across all its funded programmes. The LSC will expect Skills for Life initial assessment for all learners on programmes at level 2 and below.  This is already pretty standard within the industry, but a concrete definition can only be helpful, and will probably filter through to DWP provision at some point.
DIUS are looking for a significant increase in employer engagement in Skills for Life and want to expand Train to Gain through the distribution of £30 million in capacity-building grants to Train to Gain providers by the LSC in February 2009. Providers have until April 2009 to bid for a grant of up to £200,000 to recruit staff, retrain and restructure, and promote the Skills for Life offer to employers and employees.
The renewed focus on integrating employment and skills services includes trials in Jobcentre Plus districts across the country offering:
  • better identification of literacy, language and numeracy needs through Jobcentre Plus;
  • the introduction of a full skills health check to help people identify their skills needs where more diagnosis is needed; and
  • referral to an employability skills programme or other appropriate provision for all those with identified literacy, language or numeracy needs
Jobcentre Plus will use the trials to improve the referral of their customers to the most suitable provision; this includes the ESP and other Skills for Life providers. The LSC will use them to secure more flexible provision that can support people pre- and post-employment. The Employability Skills Programme (ESP) introduced in 2007 is going to be reviewed in May 2009, and the LSC plans to launch a refreshed programme from August 2009 to ensure it offers jobseekers the service they need to help them find work and continue their progression once in work.
Phase three of the Get On campaign will start in March 2009 and there will be a new strand of the campaign targeted specifically at black and minority ethnic groups.  Further phases for Get On are planned for  August 2009 and January 2010.
The strategy makes quite a good read.  So Get On and see how it will affect you.


Skills for Life Strategy 2009

Click the logo on the right to download the strategy document (also available from www.dius.gov.uk).

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