Investing in skills ‘will boost UK’s productivity’

Sir Charlie Mayfield
Sir Charlie Mayfield

Ministers, unions and businesses have been urged to deliver more ‘earning and learning’ employment schemes, in order to raise people’s skill levels.

Experts at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) believe that further attention needs to be paid to career pathways such as apprenticeships.

In a new study, which is supported by the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), they suggest that productivity, wages and social mobility could all be improved thanks to further skills investments.

While a diverse range of construction firms have committed to apprenticeship schemes in recent years, it is thought that more employers need to focus on these initiatives.

The call to extend earning and learning options like apprenticeships is one of five key recommendations which are made in the new ‘Growth Through People’ report.

Over the coming two decades, it also suggests that greater levels of collaboration will be required between politicians, union groups and employers themselves.

These collaborations will need to stretch across different supply chains, industries and regions, the UKCES believes.

Another key issue which employers need to focus on relates to productivity, it said.

The commission feels that boosting people’s skills will enhance their productivity, in turn strengthening employee engagement, pay levels and management systems.

Stronger links must also be built between employers and educators, the authors of the report suggest.

They believe that students should be offered more work experience placements, to help them become better-equipped for the world of employment.

Finally, the UKCES said employers should look beyond traditional exam results and qualifications when hiring new workers.

It said a wider set of outcomes should be taken into consideration, to ensure that job candidates have the right skills to succeed in a given role.

UKCES chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said the UK’s employment market continues to evolve rapidly.

He said: “Around 90 per cent of the current workforce will still be in work in the next decade. That’s where we will win or lose on productivity. And that’s why employers must lead in tackling this, and be given the space and encouragement to do so.

“That needs to start early, with more integration between the worlds of work and education.”

Adrian Belton
Adrian Belton

Responding to the report, Adrian Belton, chief executive of the Construction Industry Training Board said: “UKCES is absolutely right to say employers need to show leadership on skills. CITB has a key role to play, working with Government, industry and education to help the industry show this leadership and make it as simple as possible.”

Through the Trailblazer we’ve worked with employers to set standards and our independent, cross party apprenticeship commission is bringing together new ideas from across the industry to make sure construction apprenticeships are world class.

“Our work needs to be employer and demand led. We’re using industry forecasts and intelligence to support industry in influencing education providers to deliver the right training locally. Our industry-led common gateway will provide a single point of entry for those looking for a stimulating and financially rewarding career in construction.

“We fully support the UKCES report and are committed to working with industry and government to support stronger leadership to create a high productivity economy.”


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