The UK is sleepwalking into becoming a low-value, low-skills economy which leaves the nation ill-prepared for its post-Brexit future, a respected body has warned.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development criticised Government and businesses for “two decades of underinvestment” that have left the UK lagging well behind its competitors on at least four key measures including literacy and numeracy, learning and development, and digital skills.
The damning analysis comes in response to the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper and highlights multiple failings in the UK’s skills system.
England and Northern Ireland together rank in the bottom four OECD countries for literacy and numeracy among 16-24 year olds, while the UK as a whole comes bottom of the class of 19 countries on young peoples’ computer problem-solving skills.
UK employers spend less on training than other major economies and the gap has widened since 2005. In 2010, the cost per employee was €266 in the UK, just over half the average of €511 across the EU, the CIPD found.
The UK is also fourth from the bottom on the EU league table for adult job-related training, with evidence showing a marked deterioration since 2007.
The CIPD called on the Government to increase funding for workplace training, put skills at the heart of the industrial strategy and broaden the scope of the Apprenticeship Levy to make it a training levy.
Lizzie Crowley, skills adviser for the CIPD and co-author of the report said: “This is a sobering analysis of the state of skills in the UK. Our report should serve as a real wake-up call for the Government to break with the past two decades of failed skills policy and set the UK on a new course that delivers the right results for individuals, organisations and the economy as a whole.
“While more efforts are being made to reform education, it’s clear that there needs to be a much greater emphasis on learning and development in the workplace. As we move towards Brexit, and possible restrictions on overseas talent, it’s crucial that government works in partnership with education providers and businesses to address these deep-rooted issues that continue to blight individual and business potential.”
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