Last updated: 27.11.14

Employer leadership in skills 'key to long-term prosperity and growth'

Employers must lead the way to ensure the UK has the skilled workforce needed to create better jobs and remain competitive internationally, according to a new report.

The study - entitled 'Growth Through People' - has been produced by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and is supported by both the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

It claims that urgent action needs to be taken in order to boost skills levels and change how they are developed in order to improve productivity and social mobility - all of which can be achieved if employers collaborate with unions and the government.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership and UKCES, said: "The workplace is changing at a faster rate than it ever has done. It's creating some terrific jobs with great opportunities for some people, but not for others, where it's leading to lower pay for longer.

"Old career paths are either vanishing or becoming much harder to navigate. Encouragingly, new paths are emerging, but they are far from achieving the scale and accessibility that's needed to make a difference to enough people and to the economy at large."

The chairman believes this is why employers must be given the space and encouragement to lead on this issue. He wants to see more migration between the worlds of work and education, exposing pupils to employers as earlier as possible, which should extend into a lifetime of development.

According to the report, over the last two decades 4.6 million high-skill and 1.3 million lower-skill jobs have been created due to the infiltration of technology, while the number of roles requiring traditional mid-level skills, such as secretarial and clerical jobs, have declined.  

As a result of this, the study claims that the career ladder has become harder to climb and it is more difficult for the workplace to facilitate social mobility.

To tackle this, the authors have set out five priorities for action over the next twenty years: employers need to lead change, increasing productivity to enable career progression, the development of more ‘earning and learning’ routes like apprenticeships, bridging the gap between work and education and focusing on results rather than exams.