However, the latest CBI / Pearson Education & Skills survey reports the number of employers who are dissatisfied with school and college leavers’ basic skills remains stuck at around a third – the same as a decade ago – with 42% reporting that they have had to provide remedial training for school and college leavers.
It says as the UK competes ever more for business and talent in global markets, employers are looking to up-skill their workforces. Over the next three to five years, employers expect to need more people with leadership and management skills (a balance of +67%) and other higher skills (+61%), whereas for lower-skilled workers, they expect to slightly cut numbers (-3%).
While half of employers (a balance of +51%) are confident that they will fill their low-skilled vacancies, they are not confident of meeting their need for higher-skilled employees (-15%).
John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said:
“The UK’s growth will depend on developing a wider and deeper pool of skills so that our economy can prosper in the face of fierce international competition for business.
“There is nothing more important to the future economic success of our country, and the lives of young people, than education. The foundations for the development of higher-level skills and the essentials for working life, that employers require, are laid at school.
“With the right start at school our young people can go on to have successful and fulfilling careers and have a strong base from which to learn more at college, university, or in the workplace.
“But levels of educational attainment are rising fast in many leading and emerging economies, so in the UK we must ensure that our education and skills system can continue to compete at the cutting edge.”
In the face of challenging economic conditions, the vast majority of employers (81%) plan to maintain or increase their spending on training over the coming year, but there are major differences between sectors. A balance of +17% of manufacturers say they are planning to increase spending, while -36% of public sector employers plan reductions. Two thirds of employers (67%) report that they intend to seek more cost effective ways of delivering training in the next year.
John Cridland said:
“Even in the difficult economic climate, business leaders recognise the importance of training and skills to their success and are investing now for the future”
Since the start of the Education & Skills survey five years ago, the number of businesses involved in apprenticeships has grown rapidly from 48% to 63% this year. More than half of employers (58%) say that they intend to expand their current apprenticeship programmes or plan to start providing apprenticeship places in the next three years. This is particularly encouraging in view of the end of government funding for programme-led apprenticeships and the need for all apprentices in the future to be sponsored by an employer.