Experts are warning that the benefits of economic recovery and growth will only be fully realised if there is continued investment in skills. (http://www.ukces.org.uk/press-release/investment-in-right-skills-key-to-economic-recovery,-warn-experts) The first National Strategic Skills Audit, commissioned by the Government and published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), claims that the last decade has seen unprecedented increases in the number of people with qualifications.
However, the report warns that if the economic recovery is to continue it is important that future skills development needs are correctly identified and prioritised. If this is not achieved then the country runs the risk of increased skills shortages and under-employment, it says.
It also finds that:
- The number of people reported as ‘not fully proficient’ at their jobs has increased by 400,000 from 1.3m in 2005 to 1.7m in 2009;
- Leadership and management skills and technical skills are in need of particular improvement;
- The UK’s growth in highly skilled jobs is one of the lowest in the OECD.
Comment: Having as many as 1.7m people in this country being ‘not fully proficient’ at their jobs is, perhaps, understandable to anyone with any degree of valid experience of the world of work. Yet it is a damning indictment of ‘UK plc’s’ training and development arrangements.
It is particularly worrying when this statistic is taken together with the fact that ‘Leadership and management skills … are in need of particular improvement’.
The UKCES is supposed to ‘provide vigorous and independent challenge, advising government at the highest levels across the UK on employment and skills strategy, targets, policies and progress towards challenging competitiveness goals’.
This report would suggest that those at the top of their industries and professions are deficient in leadership and management skills – and, frankly, are ‘not fully proficient’ at their jobs. The UKCES is to be congratulated on having the courage to point this out to those at the head of the political profession.
No doubt they, like everyone in any sector who has risen to the top, will consider themselves ‘special cases’ and immune from any criticism. After all, developing skills is always something that other people need to do.