Two in five workers want to learn a new skill to get a better job, new research shows – but employers, unions and skills leaders warn colleges and training providers don’t have the resources to offer the courses people need.
YouGov polls show that 41% of workers would learn a new skill to get a better-paying job, while 31.8% say they would learn a new skill to get a job they enjoy.
Almost half (46.4%) of workers say they would learn a new skill if it were free for them, 38.4% say they would if they could get a qualification, and 31, 6% said they would if it were online.
However, more than half of workers (50.9%) say they are unlikely to acquire a new skill, with more than a quarter (26.4%) of this group saying they cannot afford the cost of training able, while 18.3% say they cannot. Are considering further education due to family commitments.
Meanwhile, 40.5% of UK adults say they would like to see more investment in skills and education.
Last fall, the Office for National Statistics estimated that nearly 1.1 million jobs remained unfilled, just below the record level of the previous spring.
To help provide the skills employers and individuals need to fill these positions, the Future Skills Coalition, a group made up of leaders from the Association of Colleges’ skills system, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) and City & Guilds , calls for a right to lifelong learning; fair, accessible and effective funding; and a national strategy to support inclusive growth.
On Wednesday, former Labor Education Secretary Lord David Blunkett and former Conservative Education Secretary Lord Jo Johnson will take part in a panel in Parliament to explore the role of higher education and further training, as part of the Future Skills Coalition-backed ‘Mind the Skills Gap’ campaign Providers can help equip people with the skills they need to support their local job markets.
David Hughes, Executive Director of the Association of Colleges said:
“This research provides the Chancellor – ahead of his spring declaration on March 15 – with compelling evidence that there is a strong public desire for upskilling or reskilling. With the right investment, colleges and other training providers could help people acquire the skills they need to get the jobs they want.
“That is why we are asking the Chancellor next year for an extra £400m in funding for colleges so that colleges can do their part to close the skills gap. The government must prioritize higher education and training if it wants to grow the economy and increase productivity.”
Paul Nowak, Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), said:
“A good economy depends on a skilled workforce – and in our rapidly changing world, the skills of the UK workforce need to keep up. But this conservative government is failing to provide the skills and training workers need. Many professionals are desperate to advance their careers by improving their skills. But ministers have starved of funding for colleges. This denies workers the opportunities they need to advance. And it is becoming more difficult for companies to recruit the specialists they need.”
Matthew Percival, Director of People and Skills at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said:
“Nine out of ten workers will need upskilling by 2030 as jobs evolve, so increasing the type and availability of training is key to growth. Addressing this challenge will require more investment from businesses and governments. More training opportunities will be available to workers when the apprenticeship levy is reformed in next month’s budget to allow companies to use unspent funds on all quality training, rather than just apprenticeships.”
Alun Francis, Chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said:
“These latest survey results show how important it is to give everyone the opportunity to learn new skills to help them find a good job that they enjoy. The Social Mobility Commission advocates a more comprehensive approach than the “one-size-fits-all” idea of social mobility based on going to university at 18. She firmly believes that everyone should be able to develop skills throughout their working life when it suits them, primarily to ensure that more people are able to fulfill their potential. We have previously called on the government to ensure that early childhood education and training receive the same level of financial commitment as schools, as they all play an equally important role in creating opportunities.”
Jane Hickie, Executive Director of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers said:
“Adequate investment in skills and education is a must if we are to have sustained economic growth in the years to come. This new survey also shows how strong the appetite for upskilling and reskilling is among the country’s workforce. However, with more than a quarter of workers saying they cannot afford the cost of training, it is vital that we have a fair and sustainable funding system in place so that those who wish to retrain can do so.”
Kirstie Donnelly, Managing Director of City & Guilds said:
“People entering the labor market today will often be working longer hours and undergoing more frequent career changes, requiring them to continue learning throughout their lives to ensure their skills remain up to date. So it’s heartening to see that this study shows that so many workers are looking to learn new skills to advance in their careers. What is worrying, however, is that so many people say they cannot afford access to this important training.
“Combine longer careers with the rapid pace at which skills are evolving in the workplace, driven by issues such as technological innovation and the need for new green skills, the need for a quality, flexible and affordable qualifications system for all ages has been greater than ever before. But unfortunately that is not the case at the moment. To address these issues, the Future Skills Coalition calls for a national strategy to drive local inclusive growth, a fairer and better-funded skills system and a right to lifelong learning that supports people to acquire much-needed skills and local economies enables them to find skilled workers they need to thrive.”
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