John Lewis chairman calls for UK workforce overhaul

Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and the UK Commission For Employment and Skills, has said that Britain needs a widespread change in its workforce if it is to improve productivity.

Mayfield's comments echoed those made at the panel on Britain's workforce at the CIPD's 2014 conference earlier this month, highlighting concerns about a hollowed-out middle in the UK's labour market.Speaking at the Telegraph's Festival of Business conference, Mayfield said there's a “really strong and broad consensus emerging around some of the things that we need to do better together in order to achieve an economy that achieves both sustained growth and fair rewards”.Mirroring concerns raised about Britain's 'hourglass-shaped' labour market raised at CIPD 2014, Mayfield said, "Over the past 20 years, Britain has created something like 2.3m more jobs in higher-skilled technology-enabled roles but at the same time, for the people in the middle, there’s been a 1.2m reduction in the number of jobs, while at the bottom we’ve created about another 2m jobs. All the signs are that this is a pretty big shift in the anatomy of the workplace and that it's going to accelerate."He said that 22 per cent of British jobs only require the educational attainment of an 11-year-old.At CIPD 2014 panelists, who included Paul Nowack (the TUC's assistant general secretary), Michael Davis (chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills) and Norman Pickavance (head of people and culture at Grant Thornton) agreed that globalisation is a big part of the problem. Many mid-level jobs are being outsourced, leaving low-skilled workers at the bottom with no natural course for career progression.Mayfield noted that the UK's economic recovery has been "job-rich and wages-poor", adding that Britain lags behind competitors such as the US, Germany and France by as much as 30 per cent.He identified a couple of potential solutions. One was an increase in the number of higher apprenticeships (there's currently a ratio of 90-1 students starting a degree versus a higher apprenticeship). Another was a growth in the number of employee-owned businesses, which Mayfield would like to see climb from 2 per cent to 10 per cent. He said evidence suggests that employee-owned businesses are better at creating and sustaining jobs, as well as increasing general well-being.You can read more about concerns surrounding Britain's labour market in Re:locate's coverage of CIPD 2014.Source: The Telegraph

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