UK bottom of the league on workplace skills

Written By: James Douglas
Published: May 4, 2017 Last modified: May 6, 2017

The human resources body CIPD has found that the UK is bottom of the international class on at least four key measures covering workplace skills.

The organisation warned that the country is sleepwalking into a low-value, low-skills economy which leaves the nation ill-prepared for its post-Brexit future, particularly if it is to face restrictions on accessing talent from outside of the UK.

The analysis, part of the CIPD’s formal response to the government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, highlighted 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- to 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; and the UK is fourth from bottom on the EU table on participation in job-related adult learning, with a marked deterioration since 2007.

Lizzie Crowley, skills adviser for the CIPD and co-author of the report, said the 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.”

The CIPD has called on the government to make additional skills funding for the workplace a priority; put skills at the heart of the industrial strategy; encourage organisations to raise their ambitions and invest more in workplace learning and ongoing skills development.