Report of the independent Workplace Training and Development Commission

05 May 2021

Published in: British Chambers of Commerce News

Report of the independent Workplace Training and Development Commission

The Report of the independent Workplace Training and Development Commission May 2021


The independent Workplace Training and Development Commission was convened by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) in the Autumn 2019, at a time when 3 in 4 employers were reporting recruitment difficulties and levels of business investment in training had been falling year-on-year since 2014.

The Commission was asked to focus on the needs of adults over the age of 25 in the workplace and to consider

‘How can we achieve a world-class system for retraining and upskilling our workforce to take advantage of rapid changes in technology, working practices, and industrial and consumer trends?

Solutions focused, the Commission sought ways to improve workplace skills planning, overcome barriers to business investment in training, maximise training and development opportunities and share best practice.

A Call for Evidence gathered the experience of UK businesses from a wide range of sizes and sectors.

Commissioners, drawn from business and skills backgrounds, then made recommendations for both employers and policy makers.

These aim to help firms be proactive in meeting their training needs and also create a more flexible skills system that responds to their requirements more effectively.

The report highlights how the impact of the pandemic has made investing in adult skills more important than ever.

It calls for the skills system to be more nimble and agile in how it responds to the evolving needs of individuals, employers and local economies as the workplace becomes rapidly more digital, automated and low carbon focused.

The Commission makes practical and pragmatic recommendations for policy makers and businesses that can be summarised under two main themes:


· Ensure businesses have the support and confidence to plan and implement organisation-wide workplace training and development needs, linked to innovation and increased productivity, and using the tax system to stimulate more business investment in skills.

· Maintain a stable, coherent and high-quality skills system that meets employer needs at all skills levels and that values vocational training on a par with academic routes.

· Deliver prestigious technical qualifications together with bite-sized, flexible units of accredited learning to help adults train and reskill more quickly for the evolving workplace.


· Ensure the skills system meets the needs of businesses and local economies and that people are trained for sustainable jobs. Local skills plans must be underpinned by robust and effective engagement with businesses of all sizes and aligned with local economic strategies.

· Enable businesses to engage effectively with further education colleges, other providers, and local stakeholders to ensure the skills system responds quickly to growth opportunities, new technologies and industry trends.

· Allow more place-based control, flexibility and coordination of skills funding and strategy, to maximise the return on investment in skills and better target resources to local economic priorities.

Commissioners identified the following priorities:


All SMEs should have access to impartial advice and support to adopt new innovative processes, conduct a workplace training needs analysis, identify relevant, high quality training provision and engage and support people to learn.

DIGITAL SKILLS AND INNOVATION Help SMEs to access general digital skills training for their teams, as well as more bespoke training, to support change management and the digitisation of processes and automation. THE SKILLS SYSTEM Provide more focus on meeting the needs of all adults in work.

This requires less emphasis on the achievement of full qualifications and more access to flexible, bite-size units of accredited learning.


Skills and broader economic strategies must be aligned with business needs and growth aspirations, be underpinned by extensive business engagement, research and data, and enabled by greater flexibility and autonomy over skills policy, funding and decision making at the local level.


Boost adult education funding to facilitate lifelong learning and enable individuals, particularly lower- skilled individuals, to quickly retrain and move into higher-earning roles in sustainable careers at a national level.


SMEs must develop the people management skills to identify and articulate the training and development needs of all adults in the workplace, ensuring that everyone is included and supported to upskill. Firms should seek business support to benchmark best practice and investment in innovation - and the workforce skills to maximise its potential.

Employers should engage proactively with organisations involved in skills planning and provision at the local level to ensure training curricula and delivery meets the current and future skills needs of the business.

Download the Workplace Training and Development Commission report here  


For more information, contact

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