Over recent weeks, government advisors and industry leaders have been lining up to highlight the skills problem in the UK workforce. For example, this is what John Longworth, director general of the British Chamber of Commerce, had to say:
“Companies need employees with the right mix of skills to grow their businesses. Almost two-thirds of businesses tell us they are unable to find the skilled workers they need in the UK . Developing the capability of our future workforce must be a priority. Too many young people have been failed by the education system and left unable to compete with non-UK workers who often have the skills businesses need.” (Source: The Telegraph)
I have discussed this issue in previous posts and have unashamedly used the word “skills crisis” as opposed to
“problem” because that is what we are talking about. Unless we can find a way of upskilling both the existing and future workforce, we will create a vast cohort of people who are not simply unemployed, but are unemployable. The social consequences of such a scenario hardly bear thinking about.
Clearly, we are not doing enough to encourage people to learn. A survey published this morning by the National Institute for Continuing Adult Education (NIACE) produced the shocking results that nearly two thirds of adults have not participated in any learning since leaving full time education.
At MindLeaders, we are therefore delighted to be part of a consortium led by Calderdale College who have successfully bid for £55.7m in European Social Funding (ESF) over the next three years, specifically to address the skills crisis. This funding is aimed primarily for low skilled people over the age of 19 currently in employment and will give them the chance to study for a Level 1 or Level 2 qualification. For many learners, this is likely to be their first ever qualification.
Very importantly, additional funding will be available for learners who then “progress” towards a higher level qualification and for people who gain promotion as a result of their training. For me, this is a key feature of the funding programme. We want to encourage people not simply to participate in a single training course, but to develop a culture of learning which will enable them to progress further in their career and fulfil their potential.
This funding will enable us to offer training programmes to many workers throughout the UK care and hospitality sectors in which we operate. I don’t expect it to solve the skills crisis overnight, but if it starts to make an impact, then I for one will be very proud.