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Skills Builder Partnership response to the Advanced British Standard Consultation

We submitted our response to the Advanced British Standard in March. 

Ensuring young people experience a complete education and achieve a portfolio of skills is key to closing the disadvantage gap, and we welcome the commitment to developing learners’ skills. 

The ‘Advanced British Standard’ could help deliver this complete education and portfolio of skills for over 270,000 learners. Research has shown that building a portfolio of skills - technical, essential and basic - in education can drive both productivity and social mobility. As the technical skills required in the job market shift, students of the Advanced British Standard deserve to learn the skills that will enable them to quickly acquire and apply new technical skills.

Key messages in our response to the Advanced British Standard consultation:

In the Advanced British Standard, or similar qualification, we would like to see:

  1. Essential skills more clearly defined and explicitly recognised, alongside other important skills. This means distinguishing between:
  • Technical skills- which are specific to a particular sector or role
  • Basic skills - which are literacy, numeracy and digital skills
  • Essential skills - those highly transferable skills that everyone needs to do almost any job (Speaking, Listening, Creativity, Problem Solving, Leadership, Staying Positive and Aiming High)
  1. Time and opportunity to develop essential skills throughout the ‘standard’:
  • Research in the Essential Skills Tracker 2023 found that low levels of literacy, numeracy and essential skills cost the UK economy £7bn, £29bn and £22bn respectively in 2022. Building higher levels of literacy, numeracy and essential skills in education leads to wage premiums for individuals. 
  • This complete portfolio of skills (essential skills, literacy and numeracy) drives social mobility, even when controlling for education level and other characteristics. Individuals who had more opportunities to build essential skills in education went on to higher skilled, higher paid jobs, which in turn provided more opportunities to build skills.
  • Opportunity to develop these skills should be threaded throughout teaching, alongside any Employability, Enrichment and Pastoral time. This could be achieved through a use of a common framework for building and measuring essential skills. The Universal Framework is the leading framework for building these skills across schools and colleges in the UK. It is open-source and free to use and provides a rigorous approach through which educators can measure and support learner progress in specific skills steps. 

Both schools and businesses want to see young people leaving education with these skills. 

In our recent Essential Skills Tracker 2024 we found that 98% of teaching professionals see essential skills as important for employment opportunities and 92% think essential skills are important for success in education. Teachers think there is a mismatch between what the education system prioritises and what leads to success in employment. 

We welcome the Institute of Directors response, which calls for the Advanced British Standard to use the Universal Framework to ensure young people leave school with the skills required by employers. Essential skills support individuals to re-skill and upskill throughout their careers, which is critical to ensuring people can adapt to the evolving demands of the economy. 

The Skills Builder Partnership is made up of over 900 partners including schools and colleges, employers and social impact organisations, all delivering opportunities for people to develop their essential skills. We look forward to bringing our collective knowledge and experience of building essential skills to feed into the Advanced British Standard. 

Would your learners enjoy building skills on a challenge day?

Take your learners on a journey of essential skills development through practical and engaging teaching like challenge days. Explore the possibilities on the funded Global Accelerator programme for educators worldwide – apply now.