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Autumn Statement 2022: Making essential skills a core component of skills reforms

In today’s Autumn Statement Chancellor Jeremy Hunt gestured towards the value of skills for the UK, stating the Government’s intention to reform the skills system and ensure “all school leavers get the skills they need for a modern economy”.

If it is to truly deliver a “world-class education” for all UK students while simultaneously driving growth and reducing unemployment, the Government must place building essential skills such as teamwork and problem solving at the heart of any skills reforms.

Our research shows individuals with higher levels of essential skills are 52% less likely to be out of work or education. As unemployment is forecast to rise to 4.9% by 2024, prioritising building the essential skills of those that need them most will provide clearer pathways for individuals into work and tackle increased unemployment - while also supporting employers to fill high-skilled, high-income roles. 

We have further demonstrated the clear link between essential skills and productivity: there is a wage premium of £5,900 associated with higher levels of essential skills. Increasing the essential skill levels of individuals will not only raise their employability, earning potential, and living standards, but it will significantly boost economic growth and achieve commercial success for the UK. 

As the newly appointed Sir Michael Barber advises on implementing the Government’s skills reforms programme, we would welcome the opportunity to work with Sir Michael and the Government to formulate a universal approach that enables all individuals to build the essential skills to succeed. 

We recommend that here the Government adopts our Universal Framework: a widely used, evidence-based model for building and measuring essential skills. The Framework breaks progression in essential skills down into explicit skill steps to support learners to develop their skills and apply them to different contexts. In 2021-22, the 851 partners of the Skills Builder Partnership used the Framework to deliver 2.4 million opportunities for individuals to build their essential skills. 

Tom Ravenscroft, Founder and CEO of Skills Builder Partnership, commented: 

“It’s encouraging to see the Government consider how best to reform the skills system - and now is the time for essential skills to become a key priority.

“Building them at scale will not only foster a futureproofed workforce that can continue to drive economic growth, but it will also ensure today’s children and young people feel the lifelong benefits of essential skills - in education, employment, and wider life.”

About Skills Builder Partnership

Skills Builder Partnership is a not-for-profit social enterprise. It unites more than 850 education institutions, employers and impact organisations around the Skills Builder Universal Framework and six principles of best practice to develop the eight essential skills that everyone needs to succeed.

To read Skills Builder Partnership’s latest publications, see

For any enquiries, please contact: 

Eleanor Collard, Communications Associate, at  

Erica Popplewell, External Affairs Manager, at