This report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) provides a series of recommendations to address the stagnation of productivity, and the issues facing the UK with regards to growing rates of in-work poverty.

The report sets out an approach to adult skills that would better meet the needs of learners, employers and the economy in the future. The recommendations to address skills shortages and provide opportunities for low-skilled employees to develop are:

  1. Expanding the Apprenticeship Levy into a ‘Productivity and Skills Levy’ to provide a £1.1 billion regional fund to drive skills devolution.
  2. Introducing a ‘Personal Learning Credit’ worth up to £700 a year for low-paid, low-skill workers to help people invest in their future careers.
  3. Supporting both demand for and utilisation of skills as part of a modern industrial strategy, including by establishing strong sectoral institutions to drive a collective commitment to skills and productivity.
  4. A ‘Productivity Commission’ should be established to lead a national mission to boost job quality and workplace performance.
  5. Introducing a ‘Personal Retraining Allowance’ of £2,000 to support low-skilled workers made redundant to return to the labour market and establishing a cross-government framework should identify and monitor industries in transition.


  • Employers in the UK spend half as much on continuing vocational training as the EU average.
  • Declining employer investment comes at the same time as public investment is being cut – the adult skills budget was cut by 41 per cent between 2010/11 and 2015/16.
  • Vocational education and training providers have tended to deliver a large number of qualifications at or below NVQ level 2, with these qualifications offering poor labour market returns.
  • Many regions which were affected by deindustrialisation at the end of the last century still suffer from low pay, low productivity and high levels of inactivity.

To read more publications from IPPR, visit their website.