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Queen’s Speech 2022: More work is needed on essential skills to tackle inequality and rising poverty
May 12, 2022

This year’s Queen’s Speech was a missed opportunity to unveil plans that will effectively improve the UK public’s essential skills, such as listening and problem solving, and therefore level up those that have fallen furthest behind.

The Government has pledged to “strengthen the economy and help ease the cost of living for families” by “level[ling] up opportunities” and supporting “more people into work”. It will further reform education to “help every child fulfil their potential wherever they live”. We support these broad aims. Skills Builder Partnership comprises more than 800 schools and colleges, employers, and impact organisations across the UK, many of whom work with less advantaged groups. By joining the Partnership, each partner commits to a collective vision of ensuring success for every individual in both school and the workplace.

We now urge the Government to set out a roadmap to improve the nation’s essential skills which prioritises those regions and groups with lower essential skill levels.

Our Essential Skills Tracker, published in March 2022, showed that essential skills are associated with clear positive outcomes for social mobility. Individuals that possess higher levels of these skills earn up to £5,900 more per year and are 52% less likely to be out of education or employment. They also receive more lifelong learning opportunities to improve their essential skills.

Yet the same research found that these skills are not distributed equitably and not everyone is given a fair chance to build them. Regions of the North and East of England have lower average levels of essential skills than London, the South, and Midlands. Meanwhile, less advantaged groups – whether by parental engagement, education, or school background – have lower levels of essential skills, less exposure to essential skills building opportunities, and thus fewer chances to improve their life outcomes.

The Government should model skills building opportunities using the Skills Builder Universal Framework as a core resource. 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. Many of our partners have already successfully scaled this Framework within settings where learners face more barriers to social mobility, enabling these learners to achieve their goals in education and progress confidently into the workplace.

Responding to the Government’s legislative agenda set out in the Queen’s Speech, Tom Ravenscroft, CEO of Skills Builder Partnership, said:

“The need for nationwide essential skills training is all too often overlooked, and has been once again within this year’s Queen’s Speech. But if we don’t scale high quality opportunities for every individual to develop their essential skills, then we won’t see an end to some of the UK’s most pervasive inequalities.

“Looking to the year ahead, we ask that the Government rapidly increases access to essential skills building opportunities - especially for those that need them most.”

Learn more about Skills Builder Partnership

Skills Builder Partnership is a not-for-profit social enterprise. It unites more than 800 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 skillsbuilder.org/insights.

For any enquiries, please contact Eleanor Collard, Communications Associate, at eleanor.collard@skillsbuilder.org, or Erica Popplewell, External Affairs Manager, at erica.popplewell@skillsbuilder.org.

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