21 April 2017
The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) has warned in its latest report that the UK is “sleepwalking into a low-value, low-skills economy” because UK workers are not properly trained on the job.
As part of its formal response to the government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, the CIPD revealed that UK employers spend less on training than the EU average, at just €266 per employee compared with €511 in 2010. What’s more, this gap has widened since 2005.
The UK is also the fourth worst EU member state when it comes to job-related adult learning, with this measure also showing a deteriorating performance in recent years.
Young people are also performing poorly compared with their international peers when it comes to numeracy, literacy and computer problem-solving skills, the report added.
Lizzie Crowley, CIPD Skills Adviser, 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.”
Indeed, the Institute of Employment Rights agrees with this analysis, recommending in last year’s widely supported Manifesto for Labour Law that in-work skills training is vitally important to creating a more productive and resilient economy.
Our proposals – the principles of which have been adopted by the Labour Party, and which have been backed by the UK’s major trade unions – recommend that employers are incentivised to invest in training, research and development by disincentivising the race to the bottom on workers’ rights that is currently being seen in today’s economy.
In trends such as the burgeoning gig economy – which some experts fear will become the mainstream model for work in the future – companies are competing against each other by lowering the guarantees they offer to their workers.
The Institute of Employment Rights recommends promoting collective bargaining at both sectoral levels and enterprise levels, allowing industry standards for pay and conditions to be negotiated by workers with employers’ associations at the highest level, under which no employer can then fall.
Through this model, which is closer in nature to the industrial relations strategies of some of Europe’s strongest economies, workers can negotiate for better skills training, and employers will be encouraged to compete by improving the value and quality of their products and services – including through upskilling their workforce.