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CBI Warns UK 90% of UK Workforce Will Need New Skills By 2030

James Kenealey training

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The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned that Britain faces a period of significant investment in skills for the workforce in order to prevent a long period of high unemployment figures.

Accelerated in part by the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing nature of the economy, the CBI stated that 90% of people will need new skills within the next 10 years in order to support the UK economy moving into the future. It projects that this will require an additional £13billion of investment in skills each year.

The report highlights how changes in the economy, fuelled by digitisation and automation, will dramatically change the skills sought by employers.

The CBI believes that the pandemic should be used as a ‘catalyst for action’ in driving a national reskilling effort to safeguard livelihoods and UK competitiveness. Those most at risk from a failure to invest in new skills will be those in lower-skilled jobs that are most likely to become automated – the same demographic who participate 40% less in training than those in higher-skilled jobs.

The CBI says that for the UK economy to thrive moving forwards, 21 million people will need basic digital skills while 16 million will need critical thinking and information processing skills.

It also suggests that 15 million people should develop skills in leadership and management while 14 million will need interpersonal and advanced communication skills.

The report also highlighted the need for expanded STEM skills in 9 million people. This is particularly important given that the UK government looks set to ‘build, build, build’ the nations way out of the economic downturn bought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

McKinsey & Company research and economics director, Tera Allas, said:

“Technology-driven change is set to transform our economy and society. The emergence and spread of COVID-19 is accelerating many of these trends, and some industries have changed more in the past few months than they had in the past few years.”

CBI director general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said:

“The right skills strategy can help every worker to progress their careers, drive up living standards and level-up the country. But a failure to act will leave businesses facing skills shortages and workers facing long-term unemployment. We are at a fork in the road that requires urgent and decisive action. The recently announced Lifetime Skills Guarantee is an important step in the right direction, but it is only a start. The CBI wants to work with unions, education providers and Government to ensure that employees working fewer hours have as much opportunity as possible to retrain and reskill.”

The CBI website highlights key issue that the government and business must work together to tackle:

“Employers remain the biggest investors in adult training, but investment in workplace training has flatlined at best in the last decade and needs to increase. Good employers recognise the importance of investing in people and embracing a learning culture: it improves staff retention, satisfaction, and overall productivity. But despite its growing importance, investment in workplace training has stagnated during the last decade, with annual training spend per employee has fallen by 5.6% from £1,620 in 2011 to £1,530 in 2017.

SMEs face barriers which prevent many of them from increasing investment in training. These include a lack of scale, high fixed costs of training and a lack of capacity. 43% of micro and small businesses did not provide any training in 2018, compared to 4% of organisations with 250 or more employees.

The training landscape is complex and does not support the large scale reskilling the UK requires. Provision is overwhelmingly targeted at young people and focused on longer courses and formal qualifications.

Many individuals at risk of automation do not think that their roles will be impacted by technology, and people looking to retrain struggle to find quality information. 68% of workers in the 15 most at-risk automation occupation groups believe it is unlikely that their current job role will be automated in the next 10 years. But individuals looking to retrain face steep challenges in finding quality information on the right jobs and training to take up.”

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