Government To Introduce Skills Bootcamps For Unemployed

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22 May 2024 – The government has announced plans to implement more stringent regulations to curb legal immigration. Unfortunately, this will be a massive blow to small businesses that are barely surviving the current labour crisis.

As a response, skills bootcamps will be established, offering a potential solution for the businesses in the industries that will be most affected: social care, hospitality, and construction. 

Legal immigration restrictions may worsen current labour crisis

The changes come in light of 2022’s immigration figures, which revealed that net migration reached 745,000. The data became the inspiration for the government’s clampdown on legal immigration.

Due to several new measures, it’s become much more difficult for small businesses to hire talent abroad. 

First, the higher qualifying salary amounts are just too high for most SME to afford. This minimum income requirement currently depends on the nature of their work and varies whichever is highest between £26,200 per year, £10.75 per hour or the “going rate” for the role. 

Under the new measures, this requirement will increase to £38,700 per year.

Second, the proposed plan of abolishing the Shortage Occupation List means that despite a domestic shortage, small businesses can’t afford to hire talent without the 20% salary discount for in-demand roles.

In light of these decisions, the government hopes to turn to British talent to fill the gap from the void of overseas labour. 

Unfortunately, the latest figures show that the UK unemployment rate was 4.2% for the latest quarter. Economic inactivity, which refers to individuals not employed and not looking for employment, was 22% and rising. 

Additionally, the UK Claimant Count for February 2024 increased by 16,800 for the month. Meanwhile, there was an annual increase of 85,800 to 1.585 million for those on benefits.

With many Brits not working, how will the government stimulate the current labour market?  

Details of new skills training programmes

The answer lies in a new programme of skills training for those on benefits. Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride revealed in a statement that these job training programmes will primarily cater to the industries most affected, namely, social care, hospitality, and construction sectors. 

Furthermore, a cross-government ministerial task force will be in charge of developing recruitment initiatives. 

So far, the details show that these skills bootcamps will be patterned after the program for the 2021 HGV drivers shortage. Potentially, they will also be accompanied by Jobcentre training schemes. 

The government is optimistic about the bootcamps and their effect on the labour market.

It’s a plan providing more opportunities for people here at home to get on, to progress, and to increase their pay. I know this presents a recruitment challenge for some employers in certain sectors, particularly those that have relied more on migration in the past. For too long we have relied on labour from abroad when there is great talent right here in the UK – I am determined to put that right.

Mel Stride MP, Work and Pensions Secretary

Currently available training programmes for SMEs

This talk of skills bootcamps is not a new concept. Aside from the 2021 HGV drivers scheme, some others are already available for small businesses to bridge any skills gap in their sector. 

These are not free, as employers will have to make a training cost contribution depending on their organisation’s size.

Small to medium employers with 1 to 249 employees will contribute 10%. In comparison, those with 250 or more employees will pay 30% of the training cost. 

To apply for these bootcamps, businesses can find a local provider.  For more information, you can head to this link.

Our Opinion

It’s great that the government is setting up more programmes to help more people gain skills. The difficulty of hiring staff with the right skills is a burden for many small UK businesses. And with the route of getting labour from abroad getting more expensive, support is needed.

And while upskilling the unemployed is a good idea, it won’t solve the issue. The number of people who are inactive due to health issues is growing. And while it’s easy to blame the “sick note culture”, it doesn’t account for one crucial fact.

The main reason why so many people are off sick is that they can’t access the health care they need. And the reason for this is that the NHS is on its knees. It has been underfunded for years, while demand has been growing.

If this was addressed, many of the people who are currently inactive would be able to return to work and fill some of these skills gaps.

Skills bootcamps are a good idea, because they can help train people to meet the needs of the labour market. And while they won’t solve the labour shortage issue we have in the UK, it’s worth it for any small businesses in need of staff to look into it.

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The Business4Beginners news team consists of several writers who each have their own unique experience in businesses. By keeping their fingers on the pulse, they bring you the latest in news and trends impacting small UK businesses.
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