Last updated: 28.11.14

Strong, wide-ranging efforts needed to tackle 'fundamental skills problem'

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills' (UKCES) call for better collaboration between businesses, government and unions provides a strong, wide-ranging basis on which to tackle the fundamental skills shortage Britain is facing, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Skills priorities recommended by the UKCES, outlined in a previous article, provide a positive platform from which to try and tackle some of the challenges facing Britain, the CIPD suggests.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the body, welcomes the emphasis the UKCES has placed on productivity and how it can be boosted through training as he feels it echoes his organisation's call for the creation of a Workplace Commission to bring businesses, government and employee representatives together to improve best practice.

He said: "Tackling the UK’s poor record on productivity and addressing the mismatches between what the education system provides and what employers require needs to be a national priority. The UKCES’s five strategic skills priorities provide a sound basis for tackling these fundamental challenges facing the UK."

Foregrounding the importance of creating better connections between employers and education to instill confidence in companies and their employees about the stability of structures and funding in the skills system is business-critical, according to Mr Cheese.

"The UKCES 's aim to improve the connection between education and employers through a drive to increase the number and quality of work experience placements is also much needed," he continued.

Mr Cheese confirmed the CIPD's backing for the UKCES's call for schools and colleges to have a point of contact for business engagement, to connect young people to the labour market in order to help them build the necessary skills to get a job before finishing their education.

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) has also come out in favour of the UKCES's recommendations, with chief executive David Hughes declaring the current skills system "not fit for purpose".

He believes there are wide skills gaps and shortages in Britain, as well as a plethora of people trapped in low-paid work or unable to secure full-time work and an ageing population, all of which are eager to learn new skills or improve existing ones.

Mr Hughes suggests the current system only helps people into work, rather than supporting people already in employment, with the UKCES's suggestions being a possible solution to this.