Interserve Learning & Employment’s Head of Functional Skills shares his relief as latest apprenticeship reforms bring overdue recognition for these essential ‘everyday’ skills.

Against a backdrop of Brexit and continuous political change in the United Kingdom, there are considerable unknowns for our economy. What we do know, however, is that combined with an ageing population and broader shifts in the labour market, ranging from unemployment to technological advancement, the importance of skills in our workforce is greater than ever. As existing reforms are made to the pension age, it is becoming increasingly recognised that our early life education may not have prepared us with the necessary skills to adapt to longer working lives and that lifelong learning and reskilling will be the new norm.

It would be naïve to suggest that Functional Skills is a “silver bullet” style solution to these problems, but it remains surprising how undervalued Functional Skills are as a qualification almost five years after they were first introduced. Those in the know fully appreciate that Functional skills are the essential elements of English, mathematics and ICT that individuals need to enable them to engage successfully in the world of work – they were, after all, introduced to address the skills gap that employers had identified, such as problem solving, time management and communication.

In fact, the transferability of these skills emphasise their importance in our society. That GCSEs are often regarded as the “gold standard” and Functional Skills a “stepping stone” qualification goes some way to explain why some employers do not understand the indicative ability of those who hold a Functional Skills qualification. Nonetheless, the recent apprenticeship reforms have seen Functional Skills Level 2 given the same status as GCSE English and mathematics grades A-C needed in order to complete the Level 3 Early Years Educator framework, a move that will give the image of Functional Skills a much needed boost.

Interserve Learning & Employment has long recognised the importance of Functional Skills as part of an Apprenticeship and has already invested in supporting this part of the learner journey. Under the new funding rules of the Levy, employers can choose to use different providers for different parts of their Apprenticeship Standard.  Interserve Learning & Employment’s distinct team of Functional Skills Specialists continues to grow and is ready to work with employers of all sizes as a specialist provider to deliver the Functional Skills component of the Apprenticeship.

Our flexible delivery models use varied teaching and learning methods, from interactive webinars to one-to-one sessions; from classroom activities to using a virtual online college. This means that Interserve Learning & Employment is well placed to deliver the Functional Skills element of Standards, which must be passed in order to move forward to the end point assessment.

If you would like any more information, our apprentice vacancies, apprenticeship programmes or opportunities to work for us, do get in touch.