Better links need to be forged between schools and employers to address the skills shortage in the UK economy, according to a new report
The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has called for urgent action to raise skill levels and their development in order to boost productivity, wages and social mobility.
It calls on employers to take the lead on this issue, working with unions and the government to ensure the UK is able to remain competitive on the international stage and create higher-quality jobs.
Better links between education and employers are seen as an essential part of this process, with schools forging connections with local businesses to inform and inspire youngsters about the range of opportunities open to them.
According to the report, just 30 per cent of businesses offer young people work experience placements during education. As there are 1.1 million firms and 4,000 secondary schools, there is plenty of scope for greater connections between them.
Support should also be provided for further education colleges, so that they collaborate with employers to provide higher level technical and professional education.
Employers, colleges and universities also need to work together more closely to ensure there are seamless opportunities to work and learn over the course of longer careers.
The need to address the skills deficit has become particularly pressing with the increasing use of technology in the workplace. While this has led to the creation of 4.6 million more high-skill jobs and 1.3 million lower-skill jobs, it has resulted in a decline in the number of positions requiring traditional mid-level skills, such as secretarial and clerical roles.
John Cridland, director general of the employers' organisation the Confederation of British Industry and a UKCES Commissioner, gave his backing to the report.
"We must work hard to improve our education system to the benefit of all and help people overcome disadvantage," he said.
"We also need to create better ladders to higher-skilled work which can help boost the UK’s productivity and lead to a rise in wages."
Trades Union Congress general secretary and UKCES commissioner Frances O'Grady also backed the report, stating that too many people are stuck in low-skill, low-pay positions with little opportunity to advance their careers.
Posted by Harriet McGowan