Employer demand for investment in skills has been neglected by governments in favour of short-term fixes focussing only on the supply of currently available skills, new research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) suggests.
The study reveals that, bar Spain, the UK has the highest proportion of low-skilled jobs in the OECD, with 22% needing educational attainment no higher than primary school level. The corresponding figure for Germany and Sweden is 5%.
In the short to medium term, the chronic underinvestment in growing an enduring skills base will undoubtedly benefit highly-skilled Umbrella Company Employees and others in the professional contracting community; however, even with the talent pool offered by freelancing professionals, British firms are still struggling to innovate and source the skills they need to secure long-term growth.
The CIPD study also found that workers with higher skills are frequently underused. This is a predicament that has led its chief executive, Peter Cheese, to call for the setting up of a workplace commission to tackle the factors underlying the UK’s poor productivity.
Productivity will remain lamentably poor and sustainable increases in pay rates will fail to occur unless the UK moves away from simply increasing the supply of skills and begins instead to improve skills utilisation, increase the number of skilled jobs in the labour market, and boost productivity.
Employers must be encouraged to invest in skills growth and the leadership talent needed deliver higher performance workplaces, Mr Cheese said. A workplace commission, he added, could “help address the critical need to improve the utilisation of skills and productivity in the UK”.