Fit for Growth – developing the UK’s skills base

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A new report, ‘Fit for Growth’, is set spark change as part of an initiative from the economic and financial think tank, CentreForum, that hopes to change the future of investment to build a stronger UK skills base. Manchester Business School’s Professor of Creativity and Leadership, Chris Bones, has been a key contributor to the report which will be highly influential in steering future government decisions around skills investment.

Professor Chris Bones’ contribution explores how more opportunities for adult skills development can be created through financial schemes. He looks at the lack of financial support and how this can hinder opportunities for lifelong learning and training. His chapter focuses on accessibility to finance and how enhancing existing professional and career development loans (PDCLs) can make continuous development a reality for more adults.

The PCDLs is a just like any bank loan, but because it is dedicated to skills improvement, the Government pays the interest while the borrower is studying. Although this shows a level of support from the Government, Professor Bones details that the scheme needs to be enhanced to make further training truly accessible. In his report, he notes that with fewer adults deciding to take out a PCDL or taking out another loan to repay the PCDL, there is growing pressure on the Government to improve the scheme.

Professor Bones reports that the advantage to enhancing PCDLs means more flexibility for adult learners who are looking for more specific skills to contribute to their job (or potential position), rather than a postgraduate taught degree. The PCDLs can be used to finance a wide variety of courses of up to two years in length. By the Government taking action to enhance PCDLs, Professor Bones is confident that more doors will open for individuals who can gain huge benefit from adult learning.

Individuals who are likely to benefit from an enhanced PCDL are laid out in Professor Bones’ chapter, including:

  • A maternity/early years care returner to the workforce
  • Someone with intermediate qualifications looking to add a professional qualification
  • SME/sole trader needing to finance skills to be able to run their business effectively
  • A mid to later life redundancy looking to retrain to keep active in the labour market

Professor Bones is confident that there is a strong case for enhancing PCDLs as it will ensure more opportunities for continuous learning and training. The improvement will affect the future of skills development hugely, encouraging equality through social mobility and ultimately strengthening the economy.

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