UK employers need to take a number of steps to tackle “deep-rooted” workforce challenges that could be hampering the UK’s growth prospects, starting with offering more “quality work experience” for young people.
The call comes in Climbing the ladder: skills for sustainable recovery from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), which outlines that despite an improving economic backdrop, UK firms still face three key barriers to growth.
Central to these is the fact that young people are struggling to secure the real world experience they need to succeed in the world of work. An issue that the report argues could be contributing to rising youth unemployment figures.
“The UK stands out among European economies for its combination of relatively low unemployment with relatively high youth unemployment,” the report states.
A focus on providing clear career pathways
The report makes a series of recommendations as to how the disconnect between education and business can be remedied.
This includes creating work experience programmes that are aligned with study programmes and providing career pathways that are clearly defined for those entering the employment market for the first time.
It also highlights that there needs to be more career development opportunities for those already in work.
“Our current skills system develops high skills only to see them increasingly underemployed in the wrong places,” it said.
The UKCES also argues that there should be an even greater emphasis on creating more vocational routes into employment.
“The UK has created a greater supply of higher skills through graduates, and the expansion of higher education, and alternative vocational routes combining study and work are under-utilised,” the report said.
Technical degree announced by Ed Miliband
The UKCES’s comments come as Ed Miliband has announced the party’s plans for a “technical degree” that would be launched under a Labour government.
It is hoped that the degree, which would enable students to study part-time as well as working part-time, will help to create a new generation of technically skilled STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) graduates, at a time when employers in these industries have expressed concerns about a skills shortage.
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