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UK skills crisis: Britain is bottom of international class on key measures

by LLB Reporter
19th Apr 17 7:30 am

New study shows

New analysis from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, shows that two decades of under-investment and failed policy on skills in the UK has contributed to the country lagging well behind its competitors in Europe and most of the OECD on at least four key measures, including literacy and numeracy, learning and development, and digital skills.

In its report – From ‘inadequate’ to ‘outstanding’: making the UK’s skills system world class’ – the CIPD warns that the UK is sleepwalking into a low-value, low-skills economy which leaves the nation ill-prepared for its post-Brexit future, particularly if the UK is to face restrictions on accessing talent from outside of the UK.

The analysis, which forms part of the CIPD’s formal response to the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, highlights multiple failings in the UK’s skills system, including:

  • England and Northern Ireland together rank in the bottom four OECD countries for literacy and numeracy among 16-24 year olds
  • Out of 19 countries, the UK ranks bottom of the class on young peoples’ computer problem-solving skills
  • UK employers spend less on training than other major EU economies and less than the EU average, and the gap has widened since 2005. In 2010, the cost per employee was €266 in the UK, against €511 across the EU
  • The UK lies fourth from the bottom on the EU league table on participation in job-related adult learning, with evidence showing a marked deterioration since 2007

Lizzie Crowley, skills adviser for the CIPD and co-author of the report, comments: “This is a sobering analysis of the state of skills in the UK. Our report should serve as a real wake-up call for the Government to break with the past two decades of failed skills policy and set the UK on a new course that delivers the right results for individuals, organisations and the economy as a whole. While more efforts are being made to reform education, it’s clear that there needs to be a much greater emphasis on learning and development in the workplace. As we move towards Brexit, and possible restrictions on overseas talent, it’s crucial that government works in partnership with education providers and businesses to address these deep-rooted issues that continue to blight individual and business potential.”

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