Edge Skills Bulletin shows skills mismatch predated COVID-19

As a new decade begins the latest Skills Bulletin from the Edge foundation looks back at trends in the labour market over the last twenty years with researchers from The Resolution Foundation and the RSA.

The bulletin provides a baseline from before the impact of the coronavirus, emphasising the significant disconnect between education and the changing labour market. There is no doubt that the coronavirus epidemic will see a rising tide of unemployment as the economy sinks into recession. The Resolution Foundation says that more than a third of 18-24 year olds have been furloughed or lost their main job since the start of lockdown. Meanwhile, 2.5 million Universal Credit claims were filed during March and April, reaching 100 per minute on 25 March alone.

In this report the latest research makes it clear that the writing was on the wall before the virus forced the UK in to lockdown.

Laura Gardiner, Research Director, Resolution Foundation, provides an overview of key trends in the UK labour market and Fabian Wallace-Stephens, Senior Researcher, Economy, Enterprise and Manufacturing, RSA suggests Britain has become a nation of service industry workers, with significant growth in high tech and high touch roles. 

The latest research from OECD shows that in the UK, 13.7% of workers are in occupations at high risk of automation.  Research by the EU Commission remind us that the fourth industrial revolution is changing the skills required within jobs and that teaching non-cognitive skills seems to have been neglected across the EU despite its effectiveness.

Research from Education and Employers indicates that young people’s aspirations are increasingly disconnected from the areas of job growth and Deirdre Hughes’ research finds parallels in Northern Ireland with young people reporting concerns about there not being enough jobs and not having enough experience to get into them.

LinkedIn reports on the top emerging jobs in the UK and looking to the future, the Industrial Strategy Council point to more severe skills shortages in ‘workplace skills’ than in ‘qualifications’ and ‘knowledge’ with at least 2.1 million workers likely to be acutely under-skilled in at least one core management skill.

Finally, we focus on the logistics sector, which underpins distribution of both retail and wholesale goods across the UK. Research shows that even before Corona 54% of logistics companies were expecting skills shortages to increase over the next five years. In terms of LGV drivers alone there is already a shortage of 51,000 and while thirteen per cent are aged over 60 with just one per cent aged under 25. Great examples from Tees Valley Logistics Academy and Co-op apprenticeships show some of the excellent work being done to address this.

There is no doubt that the impact of coronavirus will exacerbate these challenging trends, but the evidence is clear that the Government’s old-fashioned education policies were already failing to deliver the skills that business needs long before lockdown.


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