As such, the City and Guilds Group has called for a major culture shift to solve growing skills shortages through adopting a jobs-first mentality when it comes to education and training. 

A new report by the City and Guilds Group and Emsi reveals that the pandemic has exacerbated the growing gap between the skills people have and those sought by employers.

The data showed that only half of businesses (54 per cent) felt that their organisation can recruit individuals with the skills needed, showing a sizeable amount of businesses are facing talent shortages.

In addition to this, an even larger number of businesses (56 per cent) identified some barrier in meeting their skills and talent needs. Over a quarter (28 per cent) specifically cited a mismatch between skills they need and the skills people gain through education.

This lack of confidence in skills is also translating to what individuals feel that they can offer. Over three-fifths of working adults (61 per cent) – equivalent to over 22 million people – do not feel they are equipped with all the skills they will need to unlock new opportunities over the next five years.

This points to future skills barriers for candidates, especially with the acceleration of AI and technology, and signals that these workers may face a problem in accessing well-paid roles or the ability to remain employable.

Demonstrating this skills mismatch, half (53 per cent) of employers say they will need industry or job specific skills in the next three years – however, just a quarter (24 per cent) of working age adults are confident they have technical skills related to their role. Meanwhile, as digital transformation gathers pace, a fifth (22 per cent) of employers need advanced digital skills in the next three years, but only 9 per cent of working age adults are confident they have these skills.

This gap is also being worsened by the lack of training being offered to employees. Three in 10 workers (30 per cent) reported they have not received formal training in the last five years.

As such, City and Guilds is calling for individuals, education organisations, businesses and Government to adopt a more jobs and skills-first focused mentality when it comes to education and training. This, the body states, will better match skills supply with demand, and drive a stronger, faster economic recovery after the pandemic.

The report makes four main recommendations to rectify this situation, including:

  • A more radical approach to lifelong learning including incorporating more bite-sized learning and a Government campaign to convince people of the benefits of training throughout their lives
  • Employers, Individuals, Government, all to play a part in funding lifelong in the future
  • Better use of data to enable government, employers and individuals to plan for future skills needs and a commonly understood language of skills to be introduced
  • Making the skills system more accessible to smaller businesses

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO of City & Guilds Group, commented:

Covid-19 has radically disrupted the labour market displacing almost a million people from their jobs, yet paradoxically employers are telling us that skills gaps remain a chronic issue for them.

Solving this skills mismatch requires a shift in mindset from the individuals themselves as well as employers and the UK Government. It is no longer possible to leave full time education at 18 or 21 and never reskill again, we will require people and businesses to upskill and reskill throughout their working lives.


*For the employer research, City & Guilds Group commissioned British Chambers of Commerce to survey 1,090 of its member businesses across the UK. Fieldwork took place in April 2021. For the consumer research, the group commissioned Opinium to survey 2,003 working age adults across the UK. Fieldwork took place from 13th to 17th May 2021. This is outlined in their new Skills Index report.