New reports on role of universities in levelling up agenda

The Government’s flagship commitment to a “lifetime skills guarantee” won’t cover 75%-80% of non-graduate workers at risk
The UPP Foundation has released two reports on the role of universities in the ‘levelling up’ agenda, and on addressing the forthcoming employment crisis
Key findings of the two reports (‘Levelling Up Towns Report’ and ‘Covid-19 Jobs Report’) :
  • The Government’s flagship commitment to a “lifetime skills guarantee” won’t cover 75%-80% of non-graduate workers at risk
  • New UPP Foundation analysis of towns and cities across the UK suggests that a total of 5m jobs are at risk from the areas most affected by Covid; 3m of which are non-graduate jobs and 2.4-2.5m of which are not covered by retraining commitments
  • Polling for the report shows that many non-graduates want higher level training, rather than just a new Level 3 qualification – and are not motivated to retrain in areas of shortage skill in the economy
Up to 80 per cent of workers who lose their jobs in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic will not be covered by the Prime Minister’s plans for a “lifetime skills guarantee”, a major new research and polling study has found.
Two reports published today by the UPP Foundation, an independent Higher Education charity, founded by University Partnerships Programme (UPP), have concluded that the scheme’s proposed restrictions on qualifications and sectors would leave at least 2.5m unemployed workers without access to free training.
Last month, the Prime Minister outlined a “lifetime skills guarantee” focussed on a commitment for all adults to access a Level 3 (A Level equivalent) qualification in a series of pre-defined subject areas. Yet the UPP Foundation analysis of the educational background of the labour market suggests that between 75% to 80% of all non-graduates already have a Level 3 qualification – and under the rules of the scheme would not be able to access the scheme.
Analysis of the towns and cities most affected by the economic shock from Covid by the UPP Foundation suggests that as many as 5m jobs across the country are categorised as “at risk or vulnerable to an economic downturn” – of which 3.1m are among non-graduates. This means that between 2.4 and 2.5m of the non-graduates identified in this report would not benefit from the PM’s guarantee.
Additionally, the research also found that those likely to be made unemployed are not motivated to retrain for careers in sectors that have current skills shortages – the courses which provide skills covered by the PM’s new scheme – for example, coding. For example, just 14 per cent considered that because a training route might lead to a career in a sector in which skilled professionals are at a premium would be a reason to choose a course.
Adult non-graduates also express higher aspirations than the PM’s policy allows for. Some 37% would like to gain a university degree – including 57% of 18-24 year olds, 50% of 25-34 year olds, and 39% of 35-44 year olds.
Richard Brabner, Director of the UPP Foundation, said
Taken together, it is clear that the prime minister’s choice of a Level 3 qualification in a specific field – most likely to be chosen based on labour market shortage – is likely to appeal to only a tiny fraction of the 3.1m individuals at risk of unemployment identified in our report – and be open to even fewer.
What we need instead is a lifetime loan account and ability for even more learners to be able to access life changing education through local universities and colleges, including for shorter and more technical courses.
Today’s report also shows that universities can be at the heart of a civic renaissance in the Red Wall and beyond. It’s clear that voters are highly supportive of universities, but universities also need to meet voters’ priorities – on schools, on the NHS, and on the renewal of the high street
More information is available on the UPP Foundation website.
Delivered by EAUC