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Three in five adults don’t have the right skills for the next five years, research finds

10 Jun 2021 By Caitlin Powell

Report reveals mismatch between employers’ needs and skillsets available, as more than half of firms cite barriers to meeting talent requirements

Three in five workers say they do not have the skills they will need for the next five years, a survey has found.

A skills index report by City & Guilds Group and Emsi, which polled 2,000 working-age adults, found 61 per cent did not feel equipped with all the skills they will need over the next five years.

Additionally, nearly two-thirds of respondents (64 per cent) said they had not received any training in the past year, which the report said was likely to be a result of the pandemic’s impact on training budgets, while three in 10 (30 per cent) have not received any formal workplace training in the last five years.



The research, which also polled 1,000 businesses, warned of a mismatch between the needs of employers and the skills available.

More than half of the firms polled (53 per cent) said they would need industry or job-specific skills from their employees in the future; however, only a quarter (24 per cent) of working professionals surveyed were confident that they had technical skills related to their role.

Similarly, more than half of businesses (56 per cent) said they faced some kind of barrier to meeting their skills and talent requirements during the recruitment process.


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Kirstie Donnelly, CEO of City & Guilds Group, said individuals, employers and the UK government needed to change their mindset regarding skills.

“It is no longer possible to leave full-time education at 18 or 21 and never reskill again. We will require people and businesses to upskill and reskill throughout their working lives,” she said.

“It’s clear that employers and employees may both struggle to keep pace with the rapid changes in skills needs being driven by factors such as AI and the move to net zero.”

When identifying barriers to recruiting people with the skills they need, the report found that more than a quarter (28 per cent) of employers said the skills of education or school leavers have not matched their business’s needs.

From the employee perspective, one in five (19 per cent) said their bachelor’s degree or equivalent had been useful, while only 10 per cent said their A-level or equivalent qualification had been useful.

The report did find the majority (85 per cent) of workers who had received formal workplace training felt it was beneficial for their current job day to day, and nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) said it was beneficial for their future career aspirations.

But one in six employers (16 per cent) said they lacked a budget for investment in workforce training, while a similar proportion (15 per cent) said the cost of training was too high.

Jane Hickie, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said the present system for funding adult skills was “bureaucratic and too slow” to respond to the changes in the world of work and the way people choose to learn. She said more needed to be done to support the uptake of the government’s national adult digital entitlement – introduced last autumn to improve digital skills.

She also backed calls for reviving the individual learning accounts scheme, a government programme that subsidised appropriate training courses for work.

In the report just 9 per cent of workers said they were confident they had advanced digital skills, while 22 per cent of employers surveyed wanted advanced digital skills.

To address the skills gap, two in five (42 per cent) employers said they planned to invest in training and development to tackle skills gaps, and more than a third (36 per cent) said they planned to recruit apprentices or trainees.

A fifth (20 per cent) of firms also stated that they planned to consider reskilling or moving staff from different departments, and 14 per cent said they planned to recruit or retrain older workers.

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