With Chancellor Rishi Sunak promising to increase education and skills spending by £3.8 billion in his autumn budget, Training Qualifications UK Managing Director Andrew Walker says that the ball is now in the sector’s court to make the most out of it.

The Chancellor’s autumn budget is hugely encouraging for the skills sector. With £550 million pledged to adult skills, £1.6 billion given to 16-19 education, and £2.7 billion put into apprenticeships, it was a good budget for the industry.

It’s much needed as well after the difficulties created by the pandemic. The investment will be critical in helping the sector help the workforce develop the skills employers are demanding as they bounce back from COVID.

Indeed, forward-thinking is what’s required now. The last 18 months have necessitated a focus on the here and now, reacting to new restrictions and delivering the best guidance possible to allow learners and Apprentices to develop and demonstrate their skills. 

We feel this difficult goal has been achieved, both by we here at TQUK and the industry as a whole.

But to make the most of the funding available, we must now look ahead and not just react to needs but anticipate them through the learning programmes we develop and sectors we focus on. 

Logistics may not sound like the sexiest of industries, but in our increasingly connected society, where we order items online one day and expect them on our doorstep the next, skills in areas like warehousing are critical. 

They’re the lifeblood that will keep the economy pushing forward in the future and we in the skills sector need to provide the workforce with the learning required to thrive in it. 

Hot button topics should also be a key part of our strategies. Climate issues will remain a part of the global agenda for years to come and everyone, both professionally and personally, has a role to play.

We as Awarding and End-Point Assessment Organisations arguably have the most important role in shaping an education landscape that helps people understand that role and take the appropriate action.  

Meanwhile, our use of digital technology shows no sign of slowing down; in fact, it’s only speeding up. Skills in areas such as programming, cyber security and artificial intelligence are already in high demand, and 60% of businesses believe their reliance will only increase in the next five years. 

The workforce of the future is well aware of this (88% of young people know that some level of digital skills will be critical to their careers), but they’re lacking programmes robust enough to provide them with the learning they need. 

We can’t sit still. 

The chancellor’s influx of cash is very welcome, but it comes with a challenge: to plan, project and innovate in a way that will really make a difference. We here at TQUK look forward to meeting this challenge and making the investment really count!