New market research on skills commissioned by the OU has found that the vast majority of people in low and semi-skilled work are not getting the training and opportunities they need to move up the career ladder.
The online survey of 4000 UK adults found that of the 42% that described themselves as ‘Not In Skilled Employment’ (NISKE), a startling 84% were in the same roles as they were in 2012.
Trapped in dead end jobs
The survey also found that third of people in this group don’t have access to workplace training, compared to around one in five (22%) of those in skilled roles. Similarly, half (50%) of NISKEs surveyed have no career progression opportunities at their place of employment. Among skilled workers this figure drops to one in four (27%).
These findings paint a particularly worrying picture when it is set against figures such as that from the Office of National Statistics which found that UK productivity has continued to fall, and those from the Local Government Association which state that 9.2 million low-skilled workers in the UK are expected to chase 3.1 million low-skilled jobs by 2024. OU director, David Willett, says:
The UK is in the grips of a skills crisis lagging behind its international competitors and this is blighting individual and business potential. To compete on a global level the UK needs to shift to a higher skills economy, but that means the livelihoods of many NISKE workers are under threat - unless we invest in training staff and unlock greater potential.
The survey also found that women were significantly more likely to fall into the NISKE category than men (52% versus 34%) as they are more likely to work part time.
Employers need to invest in training their staff
At a time of increasing uncertainty, where concerns about a growing skills gap and lack of productivity affect most industries, the study underlines the need for investment in skills development to unlock greater potential and enable more individuals to adapt to the changing economic, political and technological climate. David Willetts adds:
Employers urgently need to invest in developing an agile workforce that can embrace change and meet new challenges. Adult education and training at all ages and levels has a role to play in raising productivity, narrowing the skills gap as well as enabling greater social mobility and enhancing progression into well-paid jobs.
However, when it comes to gaining new skills, there are many societal issues why some individuals embrace opportunities more than others. The study found apathy to be a significant factor, with NISKEs notably less likely than their better-skilled peers to want to build up their skill sets (43% versus 56%). While a lack of awareness of the training options available is affecting one in 10 (10%).
This survey follows recent market research commissioned by the OU which found the skills gap is costing UK businesses more than £2 billion a year in higher salaries, recruitment costs and temporary staffing, and the challenge of finding talent with the right skills means that businesses need to change their approach to recruitment, development and retention.
Photo by Kristian Lindqvist