UK companies fear imminent shortage of skilled workers

Fears grow of a skilled labour shortage in Britain, a report from the CBI they suggest that most British companies are increasingly concerned about where they will find the talent to fill the gap.

Growing need for a \'technical skills revolution\'
Three-quarters of British businesses expect to create more high-skilled job vacancies over the coming years, but most do not know where they will find the talent to fill them, according to a survey published on Monday.This year's 'Education and Skills Survey', conducted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Pearson Education, found that 61 per cent of the 344 companies questioned feared a widespread skills shortage."Asked about the impact of the introduction of the £2 billion apprenticeship levy, 58 per cent of firms plan to increase apprentice programmes – but it is not clear how much of this is genuinely new provision, with 63 per cent of respondents planning to reconfigure existing training to comply with the levy," said the CBI.

Careers advice needs to improve

The survey found that careers advice and guidance given to young Britons was regarded as overwhelmingly poor by the vast majority of respondents.Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general, said, “Skills have to be the beating heart of the UK’s Industrial Strategy – it’s the best growth strategy a country can have. More high-skilled opportunities are good news for our future – and a sign we can make progress on productivity – but this is tempered by the growing urgency around skills shortages."Too often political meddling and piecemeal reform have been the overriding feature of our skills system, and that’s why business has welcomed the education secretary’s recognition of the role they need to play. This partnership approach is vital for success of skills reforms."Growing our skills base needs a greater focus on what skills provision actually achieves for an individual or business, instead of just the existence of training or apprenticeships being judged a success. At the beginning of the major technical education reforms, and with the survey showing challenges for the apprenticeship levy system, that shift in mind-set by the government is vital to UK growth.
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"Across the country there are brilliant schools and colleges helping young people succeed, both academically and in terms of the attitudes and behaviours they need to succeed in later life. Business can and must do more to ensure that someone’s postcode or background does not define their life chances."Rod Bristow, president of UK and core markets at Pearson, added, "This year's report shows that now, more than ever, the UK needs a coherent education system that delivers high quality and flexible options for everyone to keep learning; that makes the most of our talent and bridges the gap from education into employment more efficiently."We welcome the education secretary's aim to create a technical education revolution, and welcome plans to inject much needed funding into the further education sector. We are in complete agreement about the need for collaboration among all stakeholders. We stand ready and committed. Let's not forget, we need career focussed as well as job focused routes.”

The need for a skills revolution in Britain

A Department for Education spokesman said, "As the Education Secretary set out to businesses last week, we need a skills revolution for success in a Brexit Britain. We've already transformed the higher education system but there is more work to do to improve technical education so young people have the skills and knowledge they need for success in the workplace."The introduction of T-Levels will be the next stage in this journey – a gold standard for technical and professional excellence. Offered alongside apprenticeships, they will form the basis of our new technical education system."
Read Fiona Murchie's article on International Education: the Inside Track – which discusses the oppurtunities of international education – in the Summer 2017 issue of Relocate Magazine.
For related news and features, visit our Talent-Management section.

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