‘Shaping the new National Retraining Scheme’ by Dr Susan Pember is published by NCFE and the Campaign for Learning today. The paper assesses how a National Retraining Scheme can ‘meet the needs of all adults, whatever their labour market status’ and argues that the scheme will need to focus on adults rather than employers if it is to meet the challenges we face as a country.

The author assesses the current and emerging needs a National Retraining Scheme should address. These include longer working lives, rising automation, and the potential retraining needs of millions of atypical workers, especially the 15% of adults who are self-employed.

It is unclear whether the National Retraining Scheme is employer led or adult led. The role of an employer led NRS would be to assist employers to retrain their employees in new roles and occupations rather than make them redundant. The problem with such a limited definition is that it will miss millions of adults who are not employees, such as workers on zero hour contracts, agency and temporary staff, the growing ranks of the self-employed and the redundant or unemployed. Only an adult focussed National Retraining Scheme can meet the needs of all adults, whatever their labour market status.

Dr Susan Pember from the introduction of ‘Shaping the new National Retraining Scheme

The priorities of the National Retraining Scheme, the paper recommends, should be set by a partnership including universities, community organisations, colleges and learning providers.  One immediate priority would be to create a funding structure that delivers flexible adult education and retraining that is responsive to individual needs.

Other recommendations include: ‘bite sized’ learning with credits or units that have clear progression paths; and an earnings reimbursement fund for self-employed workers, which cover costs from loss of earnings when training.

Looking more widely, the paper recommends that the National Retraining Scheme should be a key component of a lifelong learning strategy that brings clarity to all the existing infrastructure and programmes for education and skills and supports social mobility, integration and productivity. Potential employer measures to support retraining are also discussed.

Download the paper