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Policy makers in England have tended to treat education and training, or skills supply, as if it were a ‘magic bullet’ for a vast array of social and economic problems confronting the UK
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The United Kingdom has been concerned about the skill shortage that is stunting its growth. The labour force lacks the knowledge and expertise that comes with enhanced experience. There is a continuous supply of fresh graduates that are entering the workforce, but the industry is finding them to be unemployable, due to lack of knowledge and due to lack of training associated with practical exposure. There are employer complaints from the industry stalwarts regarding the quality of the workforce that is joining the industry after passing out from educational institutes. The diminished state of the human capital in the country can be directly linked to lack of professional courses and vocational trainings. The education sector has only concentrated on theoretical aspects of learning, thus depriving the youth of U.K, to learn to apply this educational knowledge in the field of work (Machin, and Vignoles, 2018). The critical levels which this; skill gap has led to is making skill shortage a burning issue.
With the advancement of industrialization the demand of skilled workforce is growing, so is the number of graduates passing from various streams and areas. The increasing demand of skilled labour is seen as one of the most critical demands and also a major gap in the talent pool of UK. It is considered that, UK has a huge pool of young candidates with considerable theoretical understanding and major degree certificates. However, this does not satisfy the demand of organizations operating in the soil of the private as well as public firms in UK. It is observed that, the graduates who have acquired certificates from renowned universities, do not have sufficient knowledge, skills and practical understanding required for job roles in organizations (Assets.publishing.service.gov.uk, 2018).
The government of UK has therefore initiated some major learning and development initiatives, in order to fulfill this gap. For example, the TVET, that is UK’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training, is one such skill development initiative, which collaborates with organizations and firms in order to sharpen the skill sets of students as work as employees (Britishcouncil.org, 2018). It has agreements with other collages like University Technical Colleges, Career colleges and so on, which enables it to carry out its activities. This is beneficial for addressing the educational gap in society. This means for dealing with the curse of illiteracy and unemployment.
The government of UK provides a range of online as well as offline tutorial and funding facilities to people who are willing to enhance their skills. Organizations that provide advice as well as fund to such enthusiasts are the National Careers Service, My World of Work, Careers Service Northern Ireland, Careers Wales, and so on. Some other online services that are also developed with the purpose of skill development are English, Maths and IT skills, online site for agricultural and farming training. The funding facilities are helping people with poor social as well as economic background to continue their education and find a position in the UK job market.
It is stated that the market of UK is budging with high population of graduates and potential workforce. Still employment remained one of the major loopholes in UK as a developed nation. While some states that job opportunities are high than applicants for the position, some argues that job opportunities are low compared to the applicants of the position. Organizations are developing firm training and development plans, so that they can incorporate and remove this gap. Most of the firms in UK have their Training and development programs and before ensuring a permanent job role, the organizations are providing them the facility to be part of this training and development programs. For example, the Going Global initiative of BBC has become quite popular in the present days. This is due to the increasing significance of skills and the increasing demand of skill at workplace which is remaining unfulfilled. This means, before going to the main platform, the new employees have to go through the training and development programs. This clearly shows how the organizations and policy makers are emphasizing on necessity of training and development and considering it as magic wand. The programs are helping to deal with the major economic challenge of unemployment. By creating more efficient workforce, the training and development plans are enabling organizations to grab attention of the job market and employment is helping to uplift social status. It is influencing daily lifestyle of people by enabling youngsters to find a source of income.
However, it is essential to understand whether the initiatives are able to bring fruitful results or not. Not only the private sector firms, but also the government initiatives are not witnessing expected outcomes and the financial investments are going in vain. OCED results show that, strong occupational imbalance is becoming a key characteristic of the current job market. This imbalance is reflecting such a scenario which indicates that nations are struggling to match supply and demand of skilled workforce and labour.
Figure: Degree of labour market imbalance across countries
(Source: Oecd.org, 2018)
Several research conducted by the OECD shows that, there is a huge gap, persists between the demand and the supply of skills. This is also observed that most of the occupations that graduates are getting are not related to their area of study. This scenario is mostly observable in the case of number of engineers graduating each year from the university. It is found out that, in the OECD nations nearly 7 out of 10 graduates in humanity and arts are employed in such positions that are hardly associated with their educational background. Thus, the learning that students get during their days at college, are hardly getting any practical outcomes. Policy makers believe that training and development is essential for this purpose. However, the real scenario shows that organizations are not yet able to remove this gap despite the stringent implementation is skill policies.
The gap in demand and supply is developing worse scenario in UK nations. As for example, Northern Ireland and England are at the bottom of literacy ranking among the OECD nations. While a huge number of skill development plans and programs are there in UK, CIPD data shows that the level of employee training initiatives are lower in UK than any other nations in EU. During 2010, the average investments made for each employee in UK were €266, against €511 in EU nations (CIPD, 2018).
The employers in UK have to set up their own training units in order to impart skill oriented training to the recruits, so that they are able to serve the customers, to the standards of the firm. The education system has become redundant without proper skill based training. The public policy has to shift its focus away from churning out degrees to churning out vocational and skill developmental programmes. According to Lee, (2014), high growth firms which are the backbone of the economy feel held back due to this acute shortage of capable manpower. The skill shortage scenario has even crossed the difficulty parameters and ranks numero uno in the obstacle list. A major issue which is staring UK, on the face is that there is huge skill mismatch. The education system is churning out educated youth year after year, however these students are not equipped to serve the industry, as they lack any hands on or on the job experience (Cappelli 2015).The governmental education policy had given bare minimum scope for skill based training and this is the major cause of concern, for the employer and their expectations. The quality of the workforce that is currently employed is also a cause of major concern. There is a need to start apprenticeship programmes , so that skills are enhanced and the workforce can be put into the mainstream. According to Green and Hogarth, (2018), there is already a shift of focus from the supply side to the demand side in the field of training and this is the boon that shall save the industry from further downfall. Initially it was witnessed that there were no integrated skill developmental policy, however the educational policy was more integrated and these discrepancies have led to all the complex systems. There is currently a deep focus towards the up skilling of the workforce.
The welfare programmes of the government is another cause of this dearth of skill and , as it is possible to live comfortably from aid of welfare , hence there was very little cause for developing skills and improving work opportunities. The government has started to take a stance of provider, provided for relationship to a co-investment strategy oriented pattern towards wholesome growth, by enhancing the skills sets through employee oriented on the job training.
Centralised control over the labour department has been removed and there has also been the instance of creating provisions for meeting the demand that the industry requires and training the workforce accordingly for the same. The training programmes that are required should ensure that the fresh batches are trained and the training programme has to be designed with the objective of meeting the employer requirements (Green and Hogarth, 2018). The concept of localization among the labour market leaders is also not finding much favour with the employers or with the government. There is also a requirement of a talent pool in the local area , so that there is a possibility of employing people near their native lands , thus avoiding any clutter in the industrial towns which are also overcrowded. According to Marangozov, Williams, and Buchan, (2016), nursing is a skilled job , and the National Health Service (NHS) along with the policy makers have decided upon increasing the number of nurses and help in the patient service segment. However the efforts also had to be channelized towards retention of these trained nurses. But this health care sector was being driven majorly by international recruitments and herein lies the proof that there is tremendous skill shortage in the United Kingdom, but when the international recruitment cycle declined again there was a dearth of workforce and the patient to nurse ratio declined drastically.
The labour market can only revive, when there are major increase in the employability rate, technical knowledge and its implementation require, sound skill training. The enhancement of the skill, which will help them to do the work in hand, will be the reason why an economy shall grow in the long run. There is hardly any alignment between the studies and the work, and this is the bridge that the professional often fails to cope up with. The economic forecasts are clearly forecasting the economic growth in the face of such adversity is only possible when the skilled workers that are available are of excellent quality and their knowledge in return can be used to impart training. It is also observed that most of the occupations that graduates are getting are not related to their area of study. This scenario is mostly observable in the case of number of engineers graduating each year from the university. It is found out that, in the OECD nations nearly 7 out of 10 graduates in humanity and arts are employed in such positions that are hardly associated with their educational background. Thus, the learning that students get during their days at college, are hardly getting any practical outcomes, and this is a major cause of concern that needs to be addressed.
However, despite the gaps between the demand and supply of skills, it can be stated that the skill development initiatives of organizations as well as of the government of UK, are the only way for mitigating the gap. This training and development initiatives are helping organizations to shape up the talent and skill sets of people for the organizational needs. Along with that, collaborating with the educational institutions is required for enhancing effectiveness of such initiatives. The policy makers are therefore justifiably focusing on training and development and considering it as the magic wand for skill enhancement.
It is also observed that most of the occupations that graduates are getting are not related to their area of study. This scenario is mostly observable in the case of number of engineers graduating each year from the university. The major aim of the policy makers is to align the syllabus with some practical work which will help to make employability a possibility and there shall be reduced cost on the training aspect. The integration by the university of training role oriented apprenticeship course work is the major good that the United Kingdom can experience for a more skilled enhanced future.
- Assets.publishing.service.gov.uk. (2018). [online] Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/571695/ER8_The_UK_skills_system_how_aligned_are_public_policy_and_employer_views_of_training_provision.pdf [Accessed 20 Nov. 2018].
- Britishcouncil.org. (2018). [online] Available at: https://www.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/bc_uk_skills_sector-an_introduction-june_2017_0_0.pdf [Accessed 20 Nov. 2018].
- Cappelli, P.H., 2015. Skill gaps, skill shortages, and skill mismatches: Evidence and arguments for the United States. ILR Review, 68(2), pp.251-290.
- CIPD. (2018). UK’s skills crisis laid bare as new CIPD report shows nation is bottom of international class on key measures | CIPD. [online] Available at: https://www.cipd.co.uk/about/media/press/170419-uk-skills-crisis [Accessed 20 Nov. 2018].
- Green, A. and Hogarth, T. (2018). The UK skills system: how aligned are public policy and employer views of training provision?.
- Lee, N., 2014. What holds back high-growth firms? Evidence from UK SMEs. Small Business Economics, 43(1), pp.183-195.
- Machin, S. and Vignoles, A., 2018. What’s the Good of Education?: The Economics of Education in the UK. Princeton University Press.
- Marangozov, R., Williams, M. and Buchan, J., 2016. The labour market for nurses in the UK and its relationship to the demand for, and supply of, international nurses in the NHS. Brighton: Institute for Employment Studies.
- Oecd.org. (2018). [online] Available at: http://www.oecd.org/els/emp/Skills-for-jobs-brochure-2018.pdf [Accessed 20 Nov. 2018].
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