28th November 2016

Image: Autumn Statement 2016.Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced in the Autumn Statement measures to drive productivity, innovation and infrastructure. John Rogers, chief executive of Skills for Health looks at how the announcements could impact on the healthcare workforce of the future.

In his first high-profile speech as Chancellor, Philip Hammond has predicted lower economic growth and higher borrowing, as well announcing a raft of measures aimed at driving up the UK’s productivity. This includes the creation of a new £23billion investment fund to support innovation, as well as significant investment in rail, transport, housing and telecoms.

UK productivity has lagged behind competitors in recent years. This new fund will provide an average of around £4.6billion a year over the next five years, and follows Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to support research and development. Announcing the new “innovation fund”, Mr Hammond said the government were “investing today for the economy of the future”.

At Skills for Health, we welcome the Government’s commitment to a stronger industrial strategy. However, public services have a vital role to play in creating a thriving and robust economy, and their contribution to local and regional growth should not be overlooked as that strategy is enacted.

We wholeheartedly welcome the Government’s commitment to apprenticeship growth, and while 2017’s Apprenticeship Levy will be a big change within the education and training sector, and not without its challenges, it also offers healthcare employers a fantastic opportunity to develop the next generation of healthcare employees. Employers need to take steps now to ensure they don’t miss out on access to apprenticeship funding under the new system, and can get in touch with Skills for Health for any support, information and guidance needed.

Investment in training will also make a difference to those who are ‘Just About Managing’: families across the country who are working, but struggle to make ends meet, with little left over for “luxuries”. Helping these individuals to access new skills and improve their existing ones, may well set them on the path to more secure and better-paid employment.

Valuing and supporting such training will help unlock the future workforce’s potential, giving them the skills, competences and confidence to make sure they thrive, and support the Government’s aspirations for the country and the economy as a whole.