Adam Hale, EVP of Sage People responds to this weeks CIPD report which raised serious concerns about skills and training in the UK.
The report from the CIPD 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 16-24 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
“Innovation and growth go hand in hand. As with any business we need the former to facilitate the latter. But we can only innovate and grow if we have the right skills coming into a business and adequate training and development to nurture and retain this talent.
“The findings that UK employers spend less on training than any other major EU economy is shocking. It is no secret that we have a severe skills shortage in the UK, especially when it comes to IT. The fight for talent is fierce – as we have experienced first-hand – and if businesses aren’t willing to invest in their people, how can they expect them to stay and grow the business?
“But this isn’t the only issue. The fact that the UK ranks bottom on young people’s computer problem-solving skills is appalling. We call ourselves a digital nation, but this screams otherwise. To rectify this there needs to be more recognition of technology as an important part of the UK economy. Much greater investment is needed to improve teaching and present the technology industry as an attractive career choice from a young age. In 2016, only 5,600 students studied Computer Science at A-Level in 2016, (600 of which were female) versus 31,000 doing Sociology. To change this the government needs to impose increased primary and secondary education focus on tech and STEM.
“I have a passionate belief in the UK’s ability to grow and develop world leading businesses. However, our recent research found that mid-sized UK organisations are failing to prioritise the management of their employees, their work experience and their development, with 85% of HR leaders saying they need to do more to put people at the heart of the business. While those in HR may recognise this, it’s time for business leaders to wake up to it too. To accelerate growth, UK firms must put training and development at the heart of their strategy or lose out to other digitally-savvy nations.”