A Skills Gap In The United Kingdom
Technology has completely changed the way we work, think, and collaborate.
That’s exactly why John Cope, head of education & skills at the CBI (Confederation of British Industry), says schools and businesses must work together to develop a modern education system that will drive our economy.
“Indeed, many of the companies or products transforming the world today didn’t even exist five or 10 years ago,” Cope argues in a piece for Tes. “The way that everyone learns must adapt; the economic and social cost of not tackling this head-on is just too high. The responsibility to tackle this head-on is a shared one, with business having an essential role to play.”
A Lack Of Skilled Workers
According to the CBI’s Annual Education and Skills Report, for the first time since 2014, employers expect to have job openings across all skill levels. However, two-thirds of businesses also cited worry that there is a lack of sufficiently skills people to fill those jobs. Moreover, there was a 10% drop in employers reporting that they have apprenticeship programs.
The report surveyed 379 businesses and trade associations, which represent over 28,000 employers, across the UK.
Declining Partnerships Between Education And Business
The report found that college partnerships with businesses play a key role in raising levels of attainment and smoothing the transition to work.
“Indeed, the evidence in the survey supports this, finding close to three quarters of businesses that participated have a link with an education institution,” the report reads. “Concerningly, however, this figure is significantly lower than in 2017 at 81%.”
For businesses, that means a smaller pool of qualified, skilled candidates. For college grads, that means a rough transition into the working world.
An Effective Modern Education System
Cope argues that policymakers, businesses and the education sector all must work together to develop an effective modern education system.
“We need to get technical education right, which means continuing to reform the apprenticeship levy to reverse the fall in apprenticeship starts,” Cope argues.
On the business side, Cope says companies need to take a greater hand in nurturing students and connecting with schools.
“Whether that’s employers helping to make sure that the curriculum and education prepare young people for successful careers; business leaders inspiring and opening people’s minds to all the different vocations and education routes available; or a greater number of business leaders becoming trustees and school governors,” Cope writes.
The challenge is a big one for the UK. But Cope says it’s necessary to overcome if the country hopes to create close the skills gap.
“If we don’t rise to this challenge, we will lose out as a country,” Cope writes. “So let’s use the evidence and data from this survey as a wake-up call and a guide to creating a modern education system fit for the future.”