Report highlights move to higher-skilled roles and fears over skills gap

More than three-quarters of businesses expect to increase the number of higher-skilled roles over the coming years, but two-thirds fear that there will be a lack of sufficiently skilled people to fill vacancies, according to the CBI’s Education and Skills Annual Report.


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The report, published in partnership with Pearson, represents 28,000 businesses and reveals that 85% of firms are expecting to maintain or increase investment in training in their workforce. Currently UK employers spend £44.2 billion on training expenditure each year.

The report focuses on areas such as apprenticeships, engagement with schools and higher education and lifelong learning.

Lifelong learning is a big focus for the future with 62% of firms expecting to retrain at least some employees to take up new roles in the year ahead and nearly nine in 10 anticipate upskilling employees in their current roles over the next 12 months. The single most common driver behind upskilling is the need for employees to acquire new skills/knowledge to raise productivity (reported by 74%) followed by the introduction of new technologies or services (63%).

The report highlights a drop in the number of firms offering apprenticeship programmes (from 83% in 2017 to 70% in 2018). It calls for reform of the apprenticeship levy, including greater flexibility in spending apprenticeship levy funds.

On schools, the report says business engagement with young people in education reduced from 81% in 2017 to 75% in 2018.  However, two-thirds of respondents (65%) want to play a greater role in supporting schools and colleges.

The top two reasons firms struggle to engage with schools include too little guidance/support on how to make encounters worthwhile for young people and time-consuming or different process such as DBS checks and health and safety requirements.

The vast majority of businesses are maintaining or increasing their levels of graduate recruitment. Only 6% of firms are cutting back on engagement with higher education.

Meanwhile,  a new survey by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development finds the majority of HR professionals say their work makes them happy, energised and offers them a meaningful career. Over three-quarters said the profession offers them a meaningful career (78%), while nearly two-thirds (64%) said the work they do is connected to what they think is important in life. Over two-fifths (44%) said they had regularly challenged the purpose of tasks they were asked to carry out in the last year, and proposed alternatives. However, nearly three in 10 feel there’s a conflict between their professional judgement and what their organisation expects of them, and the same proportion feel that it’s often necessary to compromise ethical values to succeed in their organisation. A third of respondents also said that managers in their organisation often engage in behaviours they consider to be unethical.


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