Blog Type, IPT Blog | March 2017

Skills and Industrial Strategy

Access to skills continues to remain a prominent issue for businesses in the UK, with over two thirds of employers concerned that they will not be able to find the skills that they require from inside the UK.  The Government’s implementation of the Industrial Strategy creates an opportunity to combat forthcoming issues surrounding a skills gap.

On Thursday 9 March 2017, the Industry and Parliament Trust (IPT) hosted a Breakfast Meeting exploring the topic of Skills and the Industrial Strategy. By bringing together industry experts and parliamentarians this meeting created a platform for discussion on how education and skills should be incorporated into the Industrial Strategy. The meeting also touched on the role that immigration plays in the workplace and the types of skills that UK business currently need. Throughout the discussion three notable themes emerged; pace of change for digital technology, career advice and apprenticeships.

Pace of Change
Many technologies used and created by businesses today require new IT skills, capabilities and behaviour. In order to create a pipeline for the future of UK jobs it remains vital to ensure that schools, colleges, universities and organisations are providing relevant training to keep up with technology development.

Furthermore, in order to reduce the possibility of a skills shortage, UK businesses need to work collaboratively with the education system to scope out future job roles and requirements in order to inspire upcoming generations. Schemes such as BBC Make it Digital are already encouraging primary and secondary pupils to discover their digital talents through an online education platform. Sites such as this enable students to engage, watch and speak with industry experts, as well as providing a number of free online training resources. However, it was also made prominent that it is equally vital to continue to upskill an existing workforce through adapting existing habits and harnessing creativity in order to sustain work related development.

Career Advice and Apprenticeships
When it comes to choosing a prospective career path, many attendees felt that there is a need for increased marketing and advertising to support alternative vocations. With a rise in technology, an aging population and decline in face-to-face communications many sectors are experiencing a shortage of similar role types. In order to accurately portray the breadth of many sectors, it is key that education providers continue to highlight a wider range of roles and challenge previous career perceptions.

The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy will also change the existing landscape for UK business and career guidance facilities, fundamentally by ensuring that businesses with a pay bill over £3mn, invest in apprenticeships. This levy also aims to uphold the standards of an apprenticeship by safeguarding approved providers and assessments. Incentives such as this levy hope to increase the popularity and accessibility of certified apprenticeships. However, many attendees felt that ensuring that this scheme is spread evenly across regions is also vital to its success.

With further changes forecast to take place in the UK’s employment landscape it is necessary that the UK upskills, trains and inspires new and existing generations. However, a potential decrease in immigration may also see many organisations turning to the same talent pool for employees. Therefore, the central question from this breakfast will be how can we accurately scope and prepare for future roles that do not yet exist?

Words by Rioco Green