Last updated: 25.11.14

UK's training and skills provision 'out of step'

The training and skills provision available in the UK is growing increasingly "out of step" with the needs of the country's economy and change is needed to remain competitive, new research suggests.

Titled 'Still in Tune? The Skills System and the Changing Structures of Work', the new report raises four 'strategic alerts' that it describes as urgently needing attention from the government and the skills sector in order to create a vocational education system that is "totally attuned to work".

The four distinct trends identified were uncertainty around the responsibility for training in an increasingly flexible labour market, declining social mobility owing to a reduction in the alignment of skills provision to work, fragmentation in the system making it difficult for employers to engage, and alarming policy dissonance between different central government departments.

According to the report - carried out by the Skills Commission - current government strategies are not as supportive as they could be in creating a nation of highly-skilled individuals that are prepared to enter a flexible and modern economy.

The study, which reports the findings of a nine-month inquiry into skills provision and its ability to adapt to the changing structures of work in the UK, was supported by the OCR and was chaired by dame Ruth Silver, president of the Further Education Leaders Trust and Barry Sheerman MP, former chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee.

Ms Silver commented: "We need significant and cultural changes to occur if we are to ensure that the UK workforce is equipped with the skills the UK economy needs.

"But this shift cannot be achieved by focusing on individual components of the system in isolation from each other. If this inquiry has taught us anything it is that we need greater ‘systems thinking’ from all players to ensure that we are well equipped to meet the challenges of a changing labour market and society."

Mr Sheerman added that the UK's current skills system does meet the needs of modern structures of work in 2014, and, indeed, beyond. He wants to see action taken to stop further misalignment happening in the coming years.