Employer Support for Higher Level Skills: why does public policy fail?

Employer Support for Higher Level Skills: why does public policy fail?

4.15 to 5.45 pm, 17 January 2017, Room 790, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL. 

Presenter: Professor John DenhamUniversity of Winchester

For many years, Ministers of all parties and governments have wanted to see more employers support their employees to gain higher level skills and degrees. Despite this bi-partisan commitment little progress has been made, and employers’ support for this type and training and education may have fallen.

In a study undertaken with the Institute for Public Affairs (LSE) and the Association of Colleges, John Denham – on behalf the Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – examined possible reasons for this policy failure. Despite the centrality of employers’ decision-making to the level of commitment to their employees training, policy-makers had little access to informed studies of the decision-making process. Reliance on macro-economic theories of the demand for skills was challenged by some academic studies but these critiques were largely excluded from the policy process. Interviews and focus groups with employers from different sectors of the economy suggested approaches to skills support that were at variance with the assumptions of current policy.

Suggestions are made for improvements in the interface between academic evidence and public policy

John Denham was Labour MP for Southampton Itchen from 1992 until he stood down in 2015. He served as a Minister in several departments and became a member of the Cabinet in 2007 when he became the first Secretary of State at the new Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills.

From 2015-16 he was a Professorial Research Fellow at the LSE where he conducted the research behind this talk. He is now Professor at Winchester University where he is Director of the Centre for English Identity and Politics. John is also the Chair of the Southern Policy Centre, the thinktank for Southern England.

The seminar is free to attend, but prior registration would be helpful: please contact  to book a place.