A coalition of employers and educational organisations has started work on building the UK’s first universal framework for essential skills.
Due to be launched in 2020, the framework will consist of a set of apps and online tools designed to ensure young people entering the workforce for the first time have the non-academic skillsets businesses are looking for.
It will attempt to address employers’ growing need for a more rounded set of skills, such as critical thinking and creativity, brought on by the increased use of technology and automation in the workplace.
It will also include tools to help employers find the right skills in candidates, and upskill or reskill their workforce.
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The framework will be developed by the Essential Skills Taskforce, which includes the CIPD, Business in the Community and the EY Foundation among others.
The launch of the taskforce comes as A-level students across the country receive their exam results.
Sir John Holman, who will chair the taskforce, said employers were now looking for higher-order essential skills that a machine would not be able to deliver. “By producing a universal framework of essential skills that are clear, measurable and authoritative, we will give employers a toolkit that they can use to select and train the employees they need to succeed in tomorrow’s workplace,” he said.
Lizzie Crowley, skills policy adviser at the CIPD, said: “Technological change has shifted the emphasis away from routine tasks and towards tasks that are more complex and require decision-making, critical thinking and problem-solving.
“That's why these skills have become ever more important.”
The new framework further develops the Skills Builder Framework (SBF) – used by more than 700 organisations – which sets out the skills needed to thrive at work. Currently used in schools, the SBF sets out capabilities at different levels, and supports teachers to embed the development of those skills within the current curriculum.
Crowley said that if a universal framework was introduced, it would enable employees to better reflect on what existing support they had within the workplace and help them upskill staff. She added: “Beyond that, it's actually supporting employers around their workforce practices to ensure they can recruit people with these skills and develop skills in their existing workforce.
“Employees can use the framework as a self-reflective tool to identify where they currently sit in terms of competencies on these skillsets and help them develop – especially those that may have lost their job because of technological change.”
Employers from a range of sectors will be consulted about the framework and it will go through several development stages. The final version is expected to be published in spring 2020.