Helping the UK to thrive CBI/Pearson education and skills survey

The tenth CBI/Pearson Education and Skills survey was conducted between February and April 2017, with responses received from 344 organisations. Respondents were drawn from all sectors of the economy, ranging from manufacturing (14%) to construction (10%) and professional services (11%).

Skills have to be the beating heart of the UK’s Industrial Strategy - it’s the best growth strategy a country can have. More high-skilled opportunities are good news for our future – and a sign we can make progress on productivity – but this is tempered by the growing urgency around skills shortages.

Josh Hardie, Deputy director-general, CBI

This year's report shows that now, more than ever, the UK needs a coherent education system that delivers high quality and flexible options for everyone to keep learning; that makes the most of our talent and bridges the gap from education into employment more efficiently.

Rod Bristow, UK and core President, Pearson

Major skills reforms must deliver quality training, not just quantity

  • Three quarters (75%) of businesses expect to increase the number of high-skilled roles over the coming years, but 61% fear that there will be a lack of sufficiently skilled people to fill them, according to the 2017 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey.
  • The survey of 344 companies highlighted that 62% see strong competition for candidates with appropriate qualifications as the most widespread cause of skills shortage, followed by a lack of candidates with appropriate qualifications (55%).
  • Asked about the impact of the introduction of the £2 billion apprenticeship levy, 58% of firms plan to increase apprentice programmes – but it is not clear how much of this is genuinely new provision, with 63% of respondents planning to reconfigure existing training to comply with the levy.
  • Careers advice and guidance given to young people was judged as overwhelmingly poor, with 84% of companies surveyed saying the quality and consistency of careers advice is inadequate. Businesses are actively engaging with schools to help support children and young people, with 81% of those surveyed having links to schools.

Growing our skills base needs a greater focus on what skills provision actually achieves for an individual or business, instead of just the existence of training or apprenticeships being judged a success.

At the beginning of the major technical education reforms, and with the survey showing challenges for the apprenticeship levy system, that shift in mindset by the Government is vital to UK growth.

Josh Hardie, Deputy director general, CBI

New apprenticeships are being created but many are reconfigured, existing training programmes

  • Businesses are adapting their training approach to meet apprenticeship levy cost recovery rules, with two-thirds (63%) planning to reconfigure their existing training into apprenticeships
  • Over half (58%) of respondents plan to create new apprenticeship programmes and close to half (46%) expect to increase apprenticeship places
  • Around a quarter of companies expect to cut back on non-apprentice training (27%) or curb their graduate intake (23%)
  • A third of businesses (33%) cited lack of clear guidance as the biggest challenge they face in the first year of the levy’s operation, while nearly as many (29%) highlight the inflexibility of the funding rules hampering their ability to take on more apprentices – supporting the CBI’s longstanding call for greater flexibility in the system
  • Many businesses are struggling to fill apprenticeship places: almost half (49%) of respondents have experienced difficulty in recruiting apprentices or expect to do so in the next three years.

We need a system that delivers high standards in three key pathways: the kind of academic skills we see in A-Levels, broader career preparation that we see in BTECs and specific occupation and job skills that will be represented by the government's planned T-levels and more apprenticeships.

These routes will all provide real opportunities for young people and help address the skills requirements of British business.

Rod Bristow, UK and core President, Pearson

Careers guidance overwhelmingly ‘not good enough’

  • Four out of five (81%) businesses have at least some links with schools and/or colleges, with connections most widespread between businesses and secondary schools (66%) and FE colleges (63%)
  • 31% of employers with established links to primary schools have increased their engagement over the past year, while even more have increased their engagement with secondary schools (35%) and FE colleges (45%)
  • Work placements for a week or two remain the most widespread work experience, offered by more than nine in ten of firms providing work experience (92%).

"Quality of teaching, learning and careers inspiration defines the life chances of young people – it’s a shared challenge for us all. Businesses are committed to supporting schools, increasingly at primary level, to help bring lessons to life and open-up opportunities beyond the school gates."

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